We’re all pretty comfortable with the knowledge that junk food is bad for our health. We know that an unhealthy diet has been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Junk food isn’t just nutritionally vacant, it has known negative health effects that severely debilitate lifestyles and can result in serious medical problems and even death. But are there other problems that can result from the consumption of junk food that we haven’t been aware of?
A new study has revealed eating junk food could increase the risk of a person destroying their sense of smell.
The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, show diet may impact a range of human traits apart from weight.
Dr Nicolas Thiebaud, of Florida State University, said: ‘This opens up a lot of possibilities for obesity research.’
It is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate a firm link between a bad diet and a loss of smell.
In the six-month study mice were given a high-fat daily diet, while also being taught to associate between an odour and a reward of a drink of water.
Mice given the food were slower to learn the association than a control group given their usual meals.
And when researchers introduced a new fragrance to monitor their adjustment, the mice with the high-fat diets could not rapidly adapt, demonstrating reduced ability to smell.
Fellow researcher Professor Debra Ann Fadool said: ‘Moreover, when high-fat reared mice were placed on a diet of control chow – during which they returned to normal body weight and blood chemistry – they still had reduced olfactory [smell] capacities.
Scientists at Florida State University found links between a high-fat diet and major structural and functional changes in the nasal system
‘Mice that were exposed to high-fat diets just had 50 percent of the neurons that could operate to encode odour signals.’
The team will now begin looking at whether exercise could slow down a high-fat diet’s impact on smell.
They will also investigate if a high-sugar diet would also have the same negative effect.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study comes at an important time with obesity rates at all time highs throughout the world.
It certainly appears that the effects of junk food reach further than any of us expected. FoodFacts.com can’t help but wonder whether there may be other damaging effects related to junk food consumption that haven yet to be uncovered.