Prior research has shown that fasting alternated with a diet of standard rodent chow and a 10% sucrose solution produces bingeing on the sucrose, but animals remain at normal body weight. The present study investigated whether restricted access to a highly palatable combination of sugar and fat, without food deprivation, would instigate binge eating and also increase body weight.
METHODS AND PROCEDURES:
Male rats were maintained for 25 days on one of four diets: (i) sweet-fat chow for 2 h/day followed by ad libitum standard chow, (ii) 2-h sweet-fat chow only 3 days/week and access to standard chow the rest of the time, (iii) ad libitum sweet-fat chow, or (iv) ad libitum standard chow.
Both groups with 2-h access to the sweet-fat chow exhibited bingeing behavior, as defined by excessively large meals. The body weight of these animals increased due to large meals and then decreased between binges as a result of self-restricted intake of standard chow following binges. However, despite these fluctuations in body weight, the group with 2-h access to sweet-fat chow every day gained significantly more weight than the control group with standard chow available ad libitum.
These findings may have implications for the body weight fluctuations associated with binge-eating disorder, as well as the relationship between binge eating and the obesity epidemic.