Snack food like potato chips substantially contributes to energy intake in humans. In contrast to basic food, snacks are consumed additionally to other meals and may thereby lead to non-homeostatic energy intake. Snack food is also frequently associated with hedonic hyperphagia, a food intake independent from hunger. Analysis of brain activity patterns by manganese-enhanced MRI has previously revealed that the intake of potato chips in ad libitum fed rats strongly activates the reward system of the rat brain, which may lead to hedonic hyperphagia. The purpose of the present study was to develop a two-choice preference test to identify molecular determinants of snack food triggering extra food intake in ad libitum fed rats. Different kinds of test food were presented three times a day for 10 min each time. To minimize the influence of organoleptic properties, each test food was applied in a homogenous mixture with standard chow. Food intake as well as food intake-related locomotor activity were analyzed to evaluate the effects induced by the test foods in the two-choice preference test. In summary, fat (F), carbohydrates (CH), and a mixture of fat and carbohydrates (FCH) led to a higher food intake compared to standard chow. Notably, potato chip test food (PC) was highly significantly preferred over standard chow (STD) and also over their single main macronutrients F and CH. Only FCH induced an intake comparable to PC. Despite its low energy density, fat-free potato chip test food (ffPC) was also significantly preferred over STD and CH, but not over F, FCH, and PC. Thus, it can be concluded that the combination of fat and carbohydrates is a major molecular determinant of potato chips triggering hedonic hyperphagia. The applied two-choice preference test will facilitate future studies on stimulating and suppressive effects of other food components on non-homeostatic food intake. © 2014 Hoch, Pischetsrieder and Hess.
Hoch, T., Pischetsrieder, M., & Hess, A. (2014). Snack food intake in ad libitum fed rats is triggered by the combination of fat and carbohydrates. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(MAR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00250