Obesity might be accompanied by changes in gut bacteria that promote anxiety
This is the conclusion reached by researchers at Harvard Medical School after demonstrating that symptoms of this mood disorder can be induced in mice by feeding them a diet that makes them obese.
Anxiety-like behavior was confirmed using well-established measures, such as the observation of the rodents’ tendency to explore an unknown maze, eat in a novel environment, or bury marbles.
To test their hypothesis on the role of gut bacteria in the development of the disorder, researchers placed antibiotics in the mice’s drinking water and transferred fecal matter from obese to normal individuals. The former decreased observed anxiety, while the latter proved anxiogenic.
Interestingly, examination of brain tissue showed that the high-fat diet had made neurons unable to use insulin to transform glucose into energy.