Eating junk food during childhood may lead to long-term, irreversible memory issues

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Every parent is aware of the detrimental effects drugs and alcohol can have on a child’s developing brain, but new research suggests moms and dads all over may want to start considering candy bars just as bad as beer cans. A study conducted using rodents at the University of Southern California found rats fed a diet full of fat and sugar during adolescence suffered long-term memory impairment persisting well into adulthood.

All in all, the study authors believe these findings show that a junk food-filled diet may disrupt a teen’s memory ability for a long time, just like rats.

“What we see not just in this paper, but in some of our other recent work, is that if these rats grew up on this junk food diet, then they have these memory impairments that don’t go away,” says Scott Kanoski, a professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, in a media release. “If you just simply put them on a healthy diet, these effects unfortunately last well into adulthood.”