‘Junk Food’ May Significantly Hike Risk of Stroke, Researchers Say

Western diet tied to health problems in young rats after just 2 months, study finds.

Healthfinder.gov: 10/3/12

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) — People who eat a so-called “Western diet,” which is high in fat, salt and sugar, are at significantly greater risk for stroke or premature death, according to a new study involving rats.

Researchers from Canada found this type of food, also known as the “cafeteria diet,” creates what they called “a ticking time bomb of health problems.”

For the study, the researchers gave sedentary rats a choice of nutritional food pellets or junk food items including cookies, sausage and cupcakes. The animals were also given a choice of water or a 30 percent sugar solution that imitated soft drinks.

Like humans, the researchers said, the rats preferred the treats. And after eating a high-calorie, high-sugar and high-sodium diet for just two months, they developed symptoms of a condition known as metabolic syndrome, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and obesity — factors that increase the risk of stroke and other health problems. Read more