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Study: Trying to lose weight? Lose the fat substitutes
Date:6/22/2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Fat substitutes used in popular snack foods to help people control weight may have the opposite effect, according to Purdue University research.

"These substitutes are meant to mimic the taste of fat in foods that are normally high in fat while providing a lower number of calories, but they may end up confusing the body," said Susan E. Swithers, professor of psychological sciences. "We didn't study this in people, but we found that when rats consumed a fat substitute, learned signals that could help control food intake were disrupted, and the rats gained weight as a result.

"Substituting a part of the diet with a similar tasting item that has fewer or zero calories sounds like a common-sense approach to lose weight, but there are other physiological functions at work. Tastes normally alert the body to expect calories, and when those calories aren't present we believe the systems become ineffective and one of the body's mechanisms to control food intake can become ineffective."

The findings appear online in the current issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association. This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Swithers, as well as co-author Terry L. Davidson, a professor of psychological sciences, are members in Purdue's Ingestive Behavior Research Center. The study also was co-authored by undergraduate student Sean Ogden who graduated this spring.

In this study, laboratory rats received crushed potato chips as a supplement to their diet, and then were divided into two groups that were given either a low-fat chow diet or a high-fat chow diet.

These groups were each split into two smaller groups. One group on each diet was fed a mixture of high-fat chips and the fat-substitute chips, containing olestra, which is a synthetic fat with no calories, while the other group received only regular high-fat chips. The chips were
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Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert
apatterson@purdue.edu
765-494-9723
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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