Withdrawal from chronic, intermittent access to a highly palatable food induces depressive-like behavior in compulsive eating rats

Behav Pharmacol. 2012 Sep;23(5-6):593-602. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e328357697f.

Abstract

The increased availability of highly palatable foods is a major contributing factor toward the development of compulsive eating in obesity and eating disorders. It has been proposed that compulsive eating may develop as a form of self-medication to alleviate the negative emotional state associated with withdrawal from highly palatable foods. This study was aimed at determining whether withdrawal from chronic, intermittent access to a highly palatable food was responsible for the emergence of depressive-like behavior. For this purpose, a group of male Wistar rats was provided a regular chow diet 7 days a week (Chow/Chow), whereas a second group of rats was provided chow for 5 days a week, followed by a 2-day access to a highly palatable sucrose diet (Chow/Palatable). Following 7 weeks of diet alternation, depressive-like behavior was assessed during withdrawal from the highly palatable diet and following renewed access to it, using the forced swim test, the sucrose consumption test, and the intracranial self-stimulation threshold procedure. It was found that Chow/Palatable rats withdrawn from the highly palatable diet showed increased immobility time in the forced swim test and decreased sucrose intake in the sucrose consumption test compared with the control Chow/Chow rats. Interestingly, the increased immobility in the forced swim test was abolished by renewing access to the highly palatable diet. No changes were observed in the intracranial self-stimulation threshold procedure. These results validate the hypothesis that withdrawal from highly palatable food is responsible for the emergence of depressive-like behavior, and they also show that compulsive eating relieves the withdrawal-induced negative emotional state.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / diet therapy
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Compulsive Behavior* / psychology
  • Depression / diet therapy
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Diet* / psychology
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior* / psychology
  • Food Preferences* / psychology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reward
  • Self Stimulation
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Time Factors

Substances

  • Dietary Sucrose