Adolescence is a critical period of development. The increased availability of fatty and sugary foods in recent decades is an environmental factor that has certainly contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States. The full impact of an obesogenic diet during adolescence on adult behaviors and neural function is unknown. Obesity and other eating pathologies are so difficult to treat because improper stress and anxiety-related behaviors often trigger overeating episodes and eating distress. The objective of this current project is to determine how an obesogenic environment during adolescence influences feeding behavior and brain systems involved in controlling appetite and stress reactivity. The hypothesis of this research is that exposure to a high-fat and sugar diet specifically during adolescence can increase the susceptibility to obesity, alter feeding behavior, and increase reactivity of stress brain pathways. This hypothesis will be tested by a multi-discipline approach of using a behavioral assay of feeding behavior, examining hormone levels, measuring neuropeptides and neurochemicals, and determining the influence of diets following brain lesions. The long-term objective of this research is to understand the long-term influences of adolescent dietary conditions and how to improve the impact of dietary influence during critical periods of development. The result of the proposed research will have direct relevance for the USDA National Institutes for Food and Agriculture priority area of childhood obesity.
|Effective start/end date||2/1/12 → 1/31/17|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))