Background: Early dietary exposure can influence susceptibility to obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. We examined the lasting effects of a high protein or high prebiotic fiber weaning diet when followed by a high energy diet in adulthood.
Methods: At birth, litters of Wistar rats were culled to 10 pups. At 21 d pups were weaned onto control (C), high prebiotic fiber (HF) or high protein (HP) diet. Rats consumed the experimental diets until 14 wk when they were switched to a high fat/sucrose (HFHS) diet for 6 wk. Body composition and energy intake were measured and an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) performed. Blood was analyzed for satiety hormones and tissues collected for real-time PCR.
Results: Weight gain was attenuated in male rats fed HF from 12 wk until study completion. In females there were early reductions in body weight that moderated until the final two wk of HFHS diet wherein HF females weighed less than HP. Final body weight was significantly higher following the high fat challenge in male and female rats that consumed HP diet from weaning compared to HF. Lean mass was higher and fat mass lower with HF compared to HP and compared to C in males. Energy intake was highest in HP rats, particularly at the start of HFHS feeding. Plasma glucose was higher in HP rats compared to HF during an OGTT. Plasma amylin was higher in HF females compared to C and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) was higher in HF rats during the OGTT. Leptin was higher in HP rats during the OGTT. HF upregulated GLUT 5 mRNA expression in the intestine and downregulated hepatic hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase. Male rats fed HP had higher hepatic triglyceride content than C or HF.
Conclusion: These data suggest that while a long-term diet high in protein predisposes to an obese phenotype when rats are given a high energy diet in adulthood, consumption of a high fiber diet during growth may provide some protection.