Metabolic disease triggered by short periods of overeating

snackdietA new study, published in the FASEB journal specifies that relatively short periods of overeating are enough to trigger the beginnings of metabolic disease.

“Acute effects of diet are mostly small, but may have large consequences in the long run,” said Suzan Wopereis, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from TNO, Microbiology and Systems Biology Group in Zeist, The Netherlands. “Our novel approach allows detection of small but relevant effects, thereby contributing to the urgently needed switch from disease-care to health-care, aiming for a life-long optimal health and disease prevention.”

The research participants consists of two groups of male volunteers, one group including 10 healthy male volunteers; the second group included nine volunteers with metabolic syndrome with a combination of two or more risk factors for heart disease (unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high blood lipids, and abdominal fat).

“Eating junk food is one of those situations where our brains say ‘yes’ and our bodies say ‘no,'” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Unfortunately for us, this report shows that we need to use our brains and listen to our bodies. Even one unhealthy snack has negative consequences that extend far beyond any pleasure it brings.”

The researchers took blood samples from both groups, before and after consuming a high-fat milk-shake, and measured 61 bio-markers such as cholesterol and blood sugar. Biochemical processes related to sugar metabolism, fat metabolism and inflammation were abnormal in subjects with metabolic syndrome.

The 10 healthy male volunteers consumed a snack diet, (such as candy bars, tarts, peanuts and crisps for four weeks), consisting of an additional 1300 kcal per day. The response of the same 61 biomarkers to the snack diet was evaluated. Hormones involved in regulating the control of sugar and fat metabolism and inflammation were changed.


A. F. M. Kardinaal, M. J. van Erk, A. E. Dutman, J. H. M. Stroeve, E. van de Steeg, S. Bijlsma, T. Kooistra, B. van Ommen, S. Wopereis. Quantifying phenotypic flexibility as the response to a high-fat challenge test in different states of metabolic health. The FASEB Journal, 2015; 29 (11): 4600 DOI: 10.1096/fj.14-269852

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