Effects of early-onset obesity on brain inflammation and cognitive abilities in rats

Chloé Boitard is investigating the impact of high-fat diet exposure on memory. Early obesity impedes brain function more drastically than adult obesity, suggesting vulnerability of the young brain to the detrimental effects of obesity.
Obesity is a new pandemic known to be associated with cognitive and memory impairment in human. This can be problematic in the young population as childhood and adolescence are periods of important learnings and brain reorganization. After giving a high fat diet to rats during adolescence, we obtained memory impairments. Our main finding is that this impairment does not appear after the same diet given during adulthood, meaning that adolescence is a sensible period to high fat diet effects on the brain. We are now trying to understand the mechanisms in charge of these diet due impairments, in order to better prevent them.
Over the past twenty years, the number of children who are overweight or obese has risen by 60%. High-calorie, high-fat diets are often held responsible. Chloé Boitard is investigating the impact of early exposure to a high-fat diet on the development of skills and learning abilities. Indeed, besides being a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer, just to name a few, obesity also impedes cognitive functions in adults. During her master’s thesis, Boitard established that in juvenile rats fed a high-fat diet certain forms of long-term memory were impaired. She will now investigate the causes of such results. Inflammation, which always occurs in obese individuals, is known to disrupt normal brain functions.
Finding out the exact role played by inflammation in the brains of juvenile rats could be the first step towards developing pharmaceutical and nutritional strategies to protect children from the harmful effects of high-fat diets.

This is your brain on fat

To add or modify information on this page, please contact us at the following address:



Institut National de Recherche pour l'Agriculture, l'Alimentation et l'Environnement

Division GA