Public Release: 

High-fat, high-sugar diet may impair future fertility in females

Rat study finds excess fat gained from eating a poor diet may accumulate around uterus

American Physiological Society

Knoxville, Tenn. (October 2, 2018)--The differences in the way males and females respond to a high-fat, high-sugar diet may include impairment of female fertility, new research suggests. The findings will be presented today at the American Physiological Society's (APS) Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases: Sex-Specific Implications for Physiology conference in Knoxville, Tenn.

Researchers studied two weight-matched groups of female rats. One group was given free access to a high-fat, high-sugar ("HFHS") diet, and the other group was offered unlimited amounts of standard rodent food ("control"). After three weeks on the specified diets, the HFHS rats had a higher percentage of body fat (adipose tissue) but did not weigh more than the control animals. The HFHS rats had higher blood sugar levels, but glucose tolerance--the ability to process sugar--was similar to that of the controls. This is in contrast to previous studies that have found that an HFHS diet increases glucose intolerance in male rats. Glucose intolerance is a symptom of metabolic disease and often leads to diabetes. No change in the females indicates a possible sex-specific difference in response to an HFHS diet.

The HFHS rats carried most of their accumulated fat around the uterus (periuterine), which may be of major importance to their ability to reproduce, explained the research team. "Diet-induced [structural] changes in periuterine adipose tissue may affect reproductive capacity (i.e., fertility) and pregnancy outcomes in females with preconceptional obesity," the researchers wrote.

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Hijab Ahmed, MS, of the University of North Texas Health Science Center department of physiology and anatomy, will present "Female rats offered free access to lard, sucrose and chow developed features of metabolic syndrome and periuterine adipose tissue expansion" in a poster session on Tuesday, October 2, at the Crowne Plaza Knoxville.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases: Sex-Specific Implications for Physiology conference will be held September 30-October 3 in Knoxville, Tenn. To schedule an interview with the conference organizers or presenters, contact the the communications@the-aps.org>APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,000 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

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