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Junk food damages growing brains so severely it affects long-term memory

• New Atlas

Caused by a reduction in a neurotransmitter associated with Alzheimer's disease, the memory impairment wasn't reversed by switching to a healthy diet in early adulthood.

Synonymous with junk food, the Western diet has deservedly gotten a bad rap regarding its impact on physical and mental health. Broadly defined as a diet high in processed foods, saturated fats, and simple sugars, it's associated with excessive caloric intake, obesity, and metabolic dysfunction. But how does eating a Western diet impact the functioning of a growing brain?

Adolescent brains are a 'work in progress'. Between the ages of 10 and 24, the brain undergoes significant changes that are greatly influenced by factors such as genetics, hormones, sleep, and diet. Previous studies have linked diet, particularly the consumption of a Western diet, with cognitive dysfunction. A new study by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) has examined how a high-fat, sugary diet damages the teen brain, affecting memory. They conducted their research on juvenile and adolescent rats.

Junk food damages growing brains so ...

The hippocampus of the brain is shown in orange - Depositphotos