High-Fat Diet and Obesity Contribute to Depression, Brain Changes

Kermit Cole

“Chronic consumption of high-fat food and obesity induce plasticity-related changes in reward circuitry that are associated with a depressive-like phenotype,” says a study appearing in the International Journal of Obesity. The study looked at the development of anxiety and depressive-like behavior, as well as biochemical alterations in brain reward circuitry, in mice fed a high-fat diet for 12 weeks.

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Scientific American

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]


  1. The scientific american article says the mice were put on a high fat AND high sugar diet and then the mice got obese and they showed depression-like symptoms. So we have some correlation, but no proof for the conclusion of the study. The causes could be anything. I would get depressed, if I were forced to eat crappy food and got really really fat within 12 weeks. Your muscles, bones and your brain are not adapted to the additional weight. You even might conclude that you will feel even worse in another 12 weeks or die soon. This study is as bad as many pharma funded studies criticized on this website…