Females may be more susceptible to overindulge 'sweet tooth' cravings than males

BETHESDA, Md. September 23, 2004 It is well known that obesity has reached epidemic proportions. As waistbands expand, so do the number of health gurus heralding the benefits of portion control and exercise to keep obesity at bay. But with some studies indicating that the rate of obesity is greater in women than in men, could it be that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to these obesity avoidance tactics? Is it possible that females are predisposed to succumb to the temptation to overeat? And could exercise be a less effective method of appetite suppression in women than in men? Researchers at The Florida State University say the answer could be yes.

Overeating (hyperphagia) and sedentary behavior are known risk factors for obesity, but research in these areas especially overeating has been studied almost exclusively in males. In the new animal study "Diet-induced hyperphagia in the rat is influenced by sex and exercise," Lisa A. Eckel and Shelley R. Moore (The Florida State University Program in Neuroscience and Department of Psychology) found that:

  • rats overate when given access to a highly palatable diet containing a greater portion of sugar than their normal diet
  • when a sweet diet is freely available, female rats consumed more calories per day than male rats
  • when given a chance to exercise, overeating was reduced in both sexes of rats, but
  • the caloric intake reduction associated with the exercise was much less dramatic in the female rats, and
  • unlike male rats, female rats exercised less when sweet foods were available than when sweet foods were not available.

The researchers concluded that female rats are more susceptible than male rats to over consume a palatable, sweetened diet, and that female rats are less likely than male rats to use exercise as a means to control appetite in the presence of such a diet.

The results of their study were published in the American Journal o

Contact: Stacy Brooks
American Physiological Society

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