This research, which used mice, was the first to investigate the combined long-lasting effects of a healthy diet and exercise when experienced in childhood. The study was reported in the “Physiology and Behavior” journal.
UCR physiology doctoral student and the lead author of the study, Marcell Cadney, stated that whenever an individual visits their physician with concerns about weight, the physician almost always recommend that they eat less and exercise, adding that it was surprising that many studies looked at exercise or diet separately. This is why they chose to focus on both for their research.
The researchers found that in general, exercise in early life decreased anxious behaviors in grown-ups. It also brought about growth in brain mass and adult muscle. The researchers found that when the mice were fed diets that were high in sugar and fat, they became fatter and grew into adults that preferred unhealthy food.
To obtain their findings, the researchers grouped the mice into four categories: those who consumed a Western diet (high in sugar and fat), those who ate a standard healthy diet, those without access to exercise and those with access to exercise.
The mice began their diets right after weaning, staying on the regimens for three weeks until they reached sexual maturity. After another two months, during which all four groups of mice were kept on a healthy diet and housed without exercise wheels, the researchers measured levels of various hormones and aerobic capacity, in addition to conducting behavioral analysis.
One of the hormones they measured, known as leptin, assists in controlling body weight by indicating that less food is needed. The hormone is produced by fat cells. The researchers found that exercise in early life increased fat mass and levels of leptin in adult mice. This was in spite of the diet that was consumed.
Prior to this, the team of researchers had discovered that consuming too much sugar and fat as a child could change the microbiome permanently, even if individuals ate healthier later in life.
In the future, the researchers plan to study whether sugar or fat is responsible for the negative effects that they observed in the mice that were fed a Western diet. Theodore Garland, an evolutionary physiologist at UCR, noted that the study’s findings could help to better understand the effects of dietary changes and activity reduction linked to obesity.
If only all children could exercise and eat a healthy diet, there would probably be a reduced demand for the solutions and resources offered by companies such as United Medical Equipment Business Solutions Network Inc., which addresses the medical needs of older persons.
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