High-fat diet may worsen cognitive decline, links to Alzheimer’s disease, study finds

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Researchers from the University of South Australia have discovered a connection between a high-fat diet and cognitive decline, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and worsening Alzheimer’s disease in mice.

The study, led by Professor Xin-Fu Zhou, is published in the journal Metabolic Brain Disease.

In this study, mice were randomized into two dietary groups: a standard diet and a high-fat diet. The experiment commenced when the mice were eight weeks old and lasted for 30 weeks.

Various metrics such as food intake, body weight, and glucose levels were monitored periodically. The researchers also administered glucose and insulin tolerance tests and evaluated cognitive function.

Key Findings

Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance: Mice on the high-fat diet exhibited significant weight gain and developed insulin resistance compared to mice on a standard diet.

Cognitive Deterioration: Mice on the high-fat diet also showed cognitive impairments, including anxiety and depression symptoms.

Genetically modified mice predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease exhibited significant cognitive decline and brain pathologies when fed a high-fat diet.

Poor Metabolism: Mice with cognitive dysfunction were also more prone to excessive weight gain, indicating that the brain changes adversely impacted metabolism.


Connection to Alzheimer’s Disease: This study adds to existing literature suggesting a link between chronic obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, which is predicted to afflict 100 million people by 2050.

Increased Risk for Psychiatric Disorders: The researchers suggest that obese individuals face a 55% increased risk of developing depression, and this risk doubles when diabetes is also present.

Importance of Addressing Obesity: The study underlines the necessity of tackling the global obesity epidemic, as a confluence of obesity, aging, and diabetes is highly likely to lead to cognitive decline and mental health disorders.


The research demonstrates the damaging effects of a high-fat diet on cognitive abilities and metabolic health, thereby emphasizing the urgent need to address obesity and dietary habits as preventative measures against cognitive decline and related mental health issues.

Further Research

The study opens avenues for further research to investigate the mechanisms through which a high-fat diet, obesity, and diabetes interact to impact cognitive function and mental health, potentially paving the way for targeted interventions.

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