Why Do Mice Overeat High-Fat Diets? How High-Fat Diet Alters the Regulation of Daily Caloric Intake in Mice

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Jun;26(6):1026-1033. doi: 10.1002/oby.22195. Epub 2018 Apr 29.


Objective: Ad libitum high-fat diets (HFDs) spontaneously increase caloric intake in rodents, which correlates positively with weight gain. However, it remains unclear why rodents overeat HFDs. This paper investigated how changing the proportion of diet that came from HFDs might alter daily caloric intake in mice.

Methods: Mice were given 25%, 50%, or 90% of their daily caloric need from an HFD, along with ad libitum access to a low-fat rodent chow diet. Food intake was measured daily to determine how these HFD supplements impacted total daily caloric intake. Follow-up experiments addressed the timing of HFD feeding.

Results: HFD supplements did not alter total caloric intake or body weight. In a follow-up experiment, mice consumed approximately 50% of their daily caloric need from an HFD in 30 minutes during the light cycle, a time when mice do not normally consume food.

Conclusions: An HFD did not disrupt regulation of total daily caloric intake, even when up to 90% of total calories came from the HFD. However, HFDs increased daily caloric intake when provided ad libitum and were readily consumed by mice outside of their normal feeding cycle. Ad libitum HFDs appear to induce overconsumption beyond the mechanisms that regulate daily caloric intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Diet, High-Fat / psychology*
  • Eating*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Hyperphagia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Weight Gain