Cafeteria diet increased adiposity in comparison to high fat diet in young male rats

PeerJ. 2019 Apr 5:7:e6656. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6656. eCollection 2019.


Background: Dietary intervention studies in animal models of obesity are crucial to elucidate the mechanistic effects of specific nutrients and diets. Although several models of diet induced obesity have been examined in rodents to assess obesity, there are few studies that have researched influence of different high fat and/or westernized diets. The aim of this study was to compare a high fat diet and a cafeteria diet on obesity related biochemical and physiological parameters in young male rats.

Methods: Five week old Wistar male rats were fed a control chow diet (C), butter-based high fat diet (HF) or cafeteria diet (CAF) for twelve weeks. In HF, 40% of energy came from fat and this ratio was 46% in CAF. CAF composed of highly energetic and palatable human foods along with chow diet. At the end of the feeding protocol all animals were culled using CO2 asphyxia and cervical dislocation after an overnight fasting.

Results: Total energy and fat intake of CAF was significantly higher than C and HF. CAF was more effective in inducing obesity, as demonstrated by increased weight gain, Lee index, fat depot weights and total body fat in comparison to C and HF. Despite increased adiposity in CAF, plasma glucose, insulin and HOMA-IR levels were similar between the groups. Plasma leptin and cholesterol levels were markedly higher in CAF than C and HF.

Discussion: We have demonstrated that there are differential effects of high fat diet and cafeteria diet upon obesity and obesity-related parameters, with CAF leading to a more pronounced adiposity in comparison to high fat diet in young male rats. Future studies should consider the varied outcomes of different diet induced obesity models and development of a standardized approach in similar research practices.

Keywords: Adiposity; Cafeteria diet; High fat diet; Obesity; Rat.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Scientific Research Projects Coordination Unit of Hacettepe University (No. THD-2017-13356). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.