Those Fat and Lazy, Junk Food Eating Rats
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The Fiscal Times
April 7, 2014

Give a child unlimited access to their trick or treat candy stash and within minutes, it seems, he's as high as a kite, bouncing off the walls with more energy than a split atom. Give that same candy to adults and it may have a completely opposite effect, turning them into lazy sloths.

So much for sugar highs. A new study by UCLA's Brain Research Institute says junk food might actually make you lazy as well as fat. They claim that being overweight makes people tired and sedentary—not the other way around.

“Life scientists led by UCLA's Aaron Blaisdell placed 32 female rats on one of two diets for six months. The first, a standard rat's diet, consisted of relatively unprocessed foods like ground corn and fish meal. The ingredients in the second were highly processed, of lower quality and included substantially more sugar — a proxy for a junk food diet.”

Releated: Eat All the Fried Chicken You Want!

OK. We all know that eating something like this every day will require running weekly marathons to burn off the calories: The rats in the study (no, not that kind) didn’t get a free pass to Taco Bell or Mickey D’s, however. They simply got ratty junk food, loaded with sugar.  And they failed to show the energy of the group of rats that pressed a lever to receive food or water as a reward. 

In fact, those lazy rats took breaks nearly twice as long as the lean rats before asking for water or food. 

Aaron Blaisdell, the UCLA researcher who headed the study, said, "Overweight people often get stigmatized as lazy and lacking discipline. We interpret our results as suggesting that the idea commonly portrayed in the media that people become fat because they are lazy is wrong. Our data suggest that diet-induced obesity is a cause, rather than an effect, of laziness. Either the highly processed diet causes fatigue or the diet causes obesity, which causes fatigue."

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Of course laziness among the fat rats is a behavior usually found in an animated Disney movie—unless, of course, Blaisdell had his rodent therapist interview the rats. Isn’t it possible that the obese rats didn’t press the lever to receive food or water as often as the lean ones simply because they weren’t hungry or thirsty? 

After all, they had just downed the equivalent of a Big Mac, a Big Gulp, fries and McFlurry with M&Ms.

Or maybe they were thinking deep thoughts while the others were simply being, well, physical.

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Editor in Chief Jackie Leo, former EIC of Reader’s Digest, Consumer Reports, and Editorial Director of ABC News’ Good Morning America, is an award-winning journalist and author. The Fiscal Times is her 4th start-up venture.