Obesity connected with sense dulling in mice

Obesity has long been associated with health risks, particularly regarding cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but now it has been found that it could affect the senses too.
Research from Florida State University has apparently found a link between an unhealthy diet and “major structural and functional changes within the olfactory system, which gives us our sense of smell.”
The research, by PhD researcher Nicolas Thiebaud and Professor Debra Ann Fadool, involved giving mice a high fat diet for six months, whilst they were being taught associations between certain smells and a reward.
When given a high fat diet, it was found that the mice would learn the associations slower, and also take longer to respond to certain smells.
“Moreover, when high fat reared mice were placed on a diet of control chow during which they returned to normal body weight and blood chemistry, mice still had reduced olfactory capacities,” said Professor Fadool.
It is thought that the number of neurons that are responsible for encoding odour signals in the mice were of a lower number in the mice that ate the high fat diet.
The researchers now want to look into whether access to an exercise wheel, while still on a high fat diet, will affect the results or not.
Although there is no evidence that the same sense-dulling effect of a high fat diet would apply to humans, the findings have opened up an avenue of new research, by pairing obesity with systems around the body that it is not normally associated with.

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