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The Duration of Intermittent Access to Preferred Sucrose-Rich Food Affects Binge-Like Intake, Fat Accumulation, and Fasting Glucose in Male Rats


The Duration of Intermittent Access to Preferred Sucrose-Rich Food Affects Binge-Like Intake, Fat Accumulation, and Fasting Glucose in Male Rats

A D Kreisler et al. Appetite.


Many people restrict their palatable food intake. In animal models, time-limiting access to palatable foods increases their intake while decreasing intake of less preferred alternatives; negative emotional withdrawal-like behavior is sometimes reported. In drug addiction models, intermittent extended access drives greater changes in use than brief access. When it comes to palatable food, the impact of briefer vs. longer access durations within intermittent access conditions remains unclear. Here, we provided male rats with chow or with weekday access to a preferred, sucrose-rich diet (PREF) (2, 4, or 8 h daily) with chow otherwise available. Despite normal energy intake, all restricted access conditions increased weight gain by 6 weeks and shifted diet acceptance within 1 week. They increased daily and 2-h intake of PREF with individual vulnerability and decreased chow intake. Rats with the briefest access had the greatest binge-like (2-h) intake, did not lose weight on weekends despite undereating chow, and were fattier by 12 weeks. Extended access rats (8 h) showed the greatest daily intake of preferred food and corresponding undereating of chow, slower weight gain when PREF was unavailable, and more variable daily energy intake from week to week. Increased fasting glucose was seen in 2-h and 8-h access rats. During acute withdrawal from PREF to chow diet, restricted access rats showed increased locomotor activity. Thus, intermittent access broadly promoted weight gain, fasting hyperglycemia and psychomotor arousal during early withdrawal. More restricted access promoted greater binge-like intake and fat accumulation, whereas longer access promoted evidence of greater food reward tolerance.

Keywords: Anxiety; Binge eating; Duration; Intermittent availability; Palatable food intake; Withdrawal.


Figure 1:
Figure 1:. Daily food intake during week 1.
Effect of daily (M-F only) access to a highly preferred sucrose-rich, chocolate-flavored diet (PREF) on daily energy intake during week 1 of exposure. PREF was presented for either 0h (“Chow”), 2h, 4h, or 8h each day. Chow was freely available outside of PREF access. Daily intakes are presented on days 1–4 (M-Th only) and yaxes in a-c represent group means + SEM (error bars may be too small to be visible). *Group x Day interaction; &Chow different than all other groups; #8h different than 2h
Figure 2:
Figure 2:. Average daily food intake of various diets during weeks 1–6.
(a) Daily PREF intake on weekdays; (b) Daily chow intake on weekdays; (c) % of daily intake from PREF. Intakes are presented as weekly averages ± SE *main effect of Group; #main effect of Week; &Group x Week interaction
Figure 3:
Figure 3:. Average total daily energy intake.
Total energy (chow + PREF) intake; ns = not significant.
Figure 4:
Figure 4:. Two-hour energy intake.
Energy intake during first 2h of dark cycle (chow for Chow group and PREF for 2h, 4h, and 8h groups); inset: change in 2h energy intake from week 1 to 2; *main effect of Group; &Group x Week interaction; different letters indicate differences between groups within that week.
Figure 5:
Figure 5:. Chow vs. PREF intake.
Cumulative (sum of week 2–6 averages) chow vs. cumulative PREF intake.
Figure 6:
Figure 6:. Weekend chow intake.
Daily chow intake on weekends (weekends 3–4 not included due to behavioral testing); *main effect of Group.
Figure 7:
Figure 7:. BW gain.
BW gain was analyzed as (a) weekly (average of all M-Th periods) expressed as daily average; (b) Cumulative (weeks 1–6); and (c) weekends (average of all Sat-Sun periods, except weeks 3–4), expressed as daily average; BW means and SEs were adjusted for BW at diet schedule onset. *different than Chow (p < .05); # different than Chow and 2h groups.
Figure 8:
Figure 8:. Body composition and fasting blood glucose.
Effect of diet schedules on (a) relative fat, water, and fat free dry (ash + protein) mass at termination of experiment (after 12 weeks of diet schedules, cohort 2 only); and (b) fasting blood glucose In b, different letters indicate differences between groups (p < .05); *different than Chow (Dunnett T, p < .05).
Figure 9:
Figure 9:. Anxiety-like behavior and psychomotor arousal.
Effect of acute withdrawal from PREF on (a) time spent in the open arm of an elevated plus maze during a 5min test period and (b) motor activity during a 2h test period. Both tests occurred following 2h of PREF access for 2h, 4h, and 8h groups. #different than 4h and 8h (p < .05); *Chow different than 4h (Mann-Whitney p < .01).

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