A group of 51 women were measured on a test of their attention after a meal high in saturated fat. The 60 grams of fat and calorie value of 930 matched the count in a Burger King double whopper with cheese or a McDonald’s Big Mac and medium fries. Researcher Dr Annelise Madison, of Ohio State University in the US, said: “This was just one meal – it’s pretty remarkable we saw a difference.”
After eating the meal high in fat, the women were on average 11 percent less able to focus.
The team also checked the effect of a condition called leaky gut, which allows intestinal bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
Those affected were less able to sustain attention during 10 minutes of computer activities. Dr Madison said: “It could be fatty acids are interacting with the brain directly. What it does show is the power of gut-related dysregulation.”
The study also shows fatty food could be linked to depressive symptoms.
Dr Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, of University of Miami in the US, said: “The findings suggest concentration could be even more impaired in people stressed by the pandemic who are turning to fatty foods for comfort.
“What we know is that when people are more anxious, a good subset of us will find high-saturated-fat food more enticing than broccoli. We know from other research that depression and anxiety can interfere with concentration and attention as well.
“When we add that on top of the high-fat meal, we could expect the real-world effects to be even larger.”
The study is in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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