Obesity by choice revisited: effects of food availability, flavor variety and nutrient composition on energy intake

Physiol Behav. 2007 Oct 22;92(3):468-78. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.04.021. Epub 2007 Apr 24.


Recent work suggested that the energy intake and weight gain of rats maintained on chow and 32% sucrose solution could be increased by simply offering more sources of sucrose [Tordoff M.G. Obesity by choice: the powerful influence of nutrient availability on nutrient intake. Am J Physiol 2002;282:R1536-R1539.]. In Experiment 1 this procedure was replicated but the effect was not: rats given one bottle of sucrose and five bottles of water consumed as much sucrose as those given five bottles of sucrose and one of water. Adding different flavors to the sucrose did not increase intakes further in Experiment 2. The relative potency of sucrose and other optional foods was studied in Experiment 3. Sucrose solution stimulated more overeating and weight gain than fat (vegetable shortening), and offering both sucrose and shortening did not generate further increases in energy intake. Finally, foods commonly used to produce overeating and weight gain were compared. Sucrose was less effective than a high-fat milk diet, and offering cookies in addition to the milk did not increase energy intake further. The nature of optional foods (nutrient composition and physical form) was markedly more important than the number of food sources available to the animals, and is a better contender as the reason for "obesity by choice".

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Food*
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Sweetening Agents
  • Sucrose