Energy intake of rats fed a cafeteria diet

Physiol Behav. 1989 Feb;45(2):263-72. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(89)90128-5.


The proportion of lipid, carbohydrate and protein energy self-selected by male and female rats from a cafeteria diet has been studied for a 48-day period (36-day in female rats). The diet consisted in 12 different items and was offered daily, in excess and under otherwise standard conditions, to rats--caged in groups of three--from weaning to adulthood. Groups of control animals were studied in parallel and compared with the cafeteria groups. Cafeteria diet fed groups of rats ingested more energy and lowered their metabolic efficiency with age. Male rats ate more than females and increased their body weight even after female practically stopped growing. There was a wide variation in the aliments consumed each day by the cafeteria-fed rats. However, the proportion of lipid, protein and carbohydrate the rats ate remained constant. Male rats ingested more lipid than females. Carbohydrate consumption was constant in control and cafeteria fed groups of rats independently of sex. Protein consumption was higher in cafeteria rats than in controls, but the differences were not so important as with liquid. Fiber content of the cafeteria diet was lower than that of the control diet. The cafeteria diet selected by the rats was, thus, hypercaloric and hyperlipidic, with practically the same amount of carbohydrate than the control diet, slightly hyperproteic and, nevertheless, remarkably constant in its composition with respect to time. Cafeteria rats had a higher water intake than controls. All these trends were maintained despite the observed changes in the animals' tastes and their differential consumption of the ailments of the diet.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Body Weight
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sex Factors