'Cafeteria diet' hastens stroke risk

October 1, 2012

The fat- and sugar-rich Western diet leads to a lifetime of health problems, dramatically increasing the risk of stroke or death at a younger age, according to a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

Researchers found that a high-calorie, high-sugar, high-sodium diet nicknamed the 'cafeteria diet' induced most symptoms of metabolic syndrome – a combination of high levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and obesity – in rats after only two months.

The animals were at an age roughly equivalent to 16 to 22 years in humans at the time of disease onset, according to lead researcher Dr. Dale Corbett, scientific director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Centre for .

"I think we'll soon start to see people in their 30s or 40s having strokes, having dementia, because of this junk food diet," says Dr. Corbett. "Young people will have major, major problems much earlier in life."

Researchers gave sedentary rats unlimited access to both nutritional and a daily selection of common junk food items including cookies, sausage and cupcakes. Animals were also given access to both water and a 30 per cent sucrose solution designed to imitate . Like humans, the animals greatly preferred to consume the treats.

Dr. Corbett highlights the importance of preventing metabolic syndrome with regular exercise and a . "We're not sure whether metabolic syndrome can be reversed. If it can't, and we continue to live and eat like this, then we're each a ticking time bomb of health problems."

" and stroke are huge health concerns for the public," says Dr. Mark Bayley, Co-Chair of the Canadian Stroke Congress and Medical Director of the Neurological Rehabilitation Program at Toronto Rehab. "We cannot afford to continue making poor nutritional choices. Our diet is killing us."

In addition to warning the Canadian public about the health dangers of a , the researchers' study opens the door to further research. "Laboratory models often use relatively young animals who are healthier and on better diets than we are," says Dr. Corbett. "However, it is important to remember that for many people, the consequences would be even worse, since a lot of people with stroke also have pre-existing health problems."

Explore further: Junk-food diets spur inflammation more than saturated fats alone

Related Stories

Junk-food diets spur inflammation more than saturated fats alone

June 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A diet based on American junk food could lead to more obesity-induced inflammation than a diet high in animal fat, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel ...

Metabolic syndrome may cause kidney disease

August 19, 2011
Metabolic syndrome comprises a group of medical disorders that increase people's risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature death when they occur together. A patient is diagnosed with the syndrome when he or she ...

New study highlights perils of snack-filled diet

June 17, 2011
A high-fat diet can be bad for your health. However, a snack-based "cafeteria"-style diet of highly palatable, energy-dense foods is even worse, according to new research.

New study finds potential link between daily consumption of diet soft drinks and risk of vascular events

January 31, 2012
Individuals who drink diet soft drinks on a daily basis may be at increased risk of suffering vascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and vascular death. This is according to a new study by Hannah Gardener and her colleagues ...

One in five Canadians has metabolic syndrome

September 12, 2011
Approximately one in five Canadians has metabolic syndrome — a combination of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease — according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

Gene therapy improved left ventricular and atrial function in heart failure by up to 25 percent

September 25, 2017
Heart function improved by up to 25 percent in a trial using gene therapy to reverse cardiac damage from congestive heart failure in a large animal model, Mount Sinai researchers report. This is the first study using a novel ...

Tension makes the heart grow stronger

September 25, 2017
By taking videos of a tiny beating zebrafish heart as it reconstructs its covering in a petri dish, scientists have captured unexpected dynamics of cells involved in tissue regeneration. They found that the depleted heart ...

Hospital mortality rates after heart attack differ by age

September 25, 2017
Outcomes for older patients hospitalized for a heart attack are often used as a measure of hospital quality for all patients. But a study led by Yale researchers shows that hospital mortality rates for older patients with ...

Laser device placed on the heart identifies insufficient oxygenation better than other measures

September 20, 2017
A new device can assess in real time whether the body's tissues are receiving enough oxygen and, placed on the heart, can predict cardiac arrest in critically ill heart patients, report researchers at Boston Children's Hospital ...

Metabolism switch signals end for healing hearts

September 19, 2017
Researchers have identified the process that shuts down the human heart's ability to heal itself, and are now searching for a drug to reverse it.

Beta blockers not needed after heart attack if other medications taken

September 18, 2017
A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finds beta blockers are not needed after a heart attack if heart-attack survivors are taking ACE inhibitors and statins. The study is the first to challenge ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.