Does junk food make you lazy?

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Sep 30, 2014 10:49:33 AM

Studies show unhealthy eating decreases energy levels

Junk food. We all know it's bad for us, but what about the way it makes us feel? It turns out that unhealthy eating can, in fact, make you lazy. At least indirectly. The consumption of unhealthy "junk food" contributes
Does junk food make you lazy? to obesity, and that in turn, means being overweight. This means having those extra pounds on your frame inevitably leaves you feeling tired, sluggish and unmotivated. These effects create detrimental road blocks in your efforts to reduce obesity or in leading an active, healthy lifestyle

Feeling lazy isn't just a possible side-effect of junk food, there is actually scientific evidence behind this claim. In this final installment of our eight-part series on diet and health, we’ll take a look at the rising evidence of the undeniable relationship between unhealthy eating and laziness. Our results come in from a study conducted by a team at UCLA.

Aaron Blaisdell and his team at UCLA broke down the unhealthy food vs. laziness issue by studying two groups of 16 rats for six months, feeding each group a different diet. One group received a standard diet: relatively unprocessed foods, such as fish meal and ground corn. The second group received highly processed, low-quality foods that contained considerably more sugar: a diet comparable to human junk food.

And guess what? Just three months into the study, the junk-food rats gained weight, whereas the other group remained the same or differed in weight only slightly. The overweight rats were fatigued, slow and showed signs of low energy, essentially what we might call lazy. Further yet, the overweight group wasn't as successful as the healthy-diet rats at performing the task scientists set out for them. 

It gets worse.

Scientists noted that by the end of the six-month study, the rats eating junk food had developed numerous tumors and health issues. Rats that ate the healthier diet had overall better health levels.

What does this mean for you?

Humans and rats have similar physiological systems, which lead the study’s scientists to believe their results would be much the same in people. So, does junk food make you lazy? This question can be confirmed, but Blaisdell, who is an expert in animal cognition, brings to light a common misconception. He notes that society often characterizes people who are overweight as lazy or undisciplined. “We interpret our results as suggesting that the commonly portrayed idea that people become fat because they are lazy is wrong.”

He goes on to say, “Our data suggests the 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.”

Blaisdell’s research focuses on understanding the relationship between health and lifestyle, and the causal relationship between cognitive impairment and a high junk-food diet. He notes that, “We live in an environment with sedentary lifestyles, poor-quality diet and highly processed food that is very different from the one we are adapted to through human evolution.” 

He believes it's the “unnatural” lifestyle that contributes to obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases sweeping our nation.

Diet and health are undeniably intertwined. We hope you’ve enjoyed all eight of our articles in our blog series on diet and health. If you have missed any past blog posts, visit the Ridgeview blog for a full list of all eight articles, and stay tuned for our next series coming in October.

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Ridgeview Medical Center is an independent, nonprofit, regional health care system located just 35 minutes west of Minneapolis on Highway 5. Its network includes two hospitals—located in Waconia and Arlington—a multitude of primary and specialty care clinics(including OB/GYN clinics in Chaska and Chanhassen) , emergency services and specialty programs, and Two Twelve Medical Center in Chaska—a free-standing 24/7 emergency and urgent care facility with multi-specialty clinics and services.



Topics: Diet and Nutrition, Women's Health

Medical and health information presented here is intended to be general in nature, and should not be viewed as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult with a health care professional for all matters relating to personal medical and health care issues. In case of an emergency, please call 911. 

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