Super Size My Arteries


Yes, thirty days of McDonald's meals causes weight gain, even heart palpitations. But what happens to your arteries?

For the first time, a short term, six week, study (using mice) shows that a similar diet causes arteries to begin clogging, and worse, affects its structural and mechanical properties. This study used a high fat diet comprised of about 36% of calories as fat; a Big Mac has about 49%.

From the study:

The arterial compliance was compared between control and high fat-fed mice for 6 weeks.We show that the compliance of the TDAs was dramatically reduced in high fat-fed mice whereas the compliance of the carotids remained unchanged. An abundance of collagen deposition in the media/adventitia of the carotids and TDAs was observed in high fat-fed mice. These results demonstrate that the structural and mechanical properties of small arteries are rapidly altered even after only 6 weeks of high fat feeding.

Take a look for yourself. Tha'ts food for thought the next time you visit a fast food restaurant!


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yeah but look; it's about mice! Although I must admit our diets do show some overlap I do not appreciate the mouse as a particularly appropriate model for this kind of research.

It is in no way I'm trying to argue fastfood is good for you, but I'm just saying..

By informania (not verified) on 04 Apr 2012 #permalink

the article says nothing about the type of fat fed to the mice. It seems that whatever it was it was likely to be mostly vegetable fat - as the diet only had .2% cholesterol. So shouldn't the study headline have said that a largely vegetable fat diet (possibly or even probably high in trans fats) harms small arteries?

Haven't our scientists yet noticed that not all fats are alike metabolically?

Good point! Digging deeper into the original article, they use Bio-Serv high fat diet for mice that contains:
C18:2 Linoleic 36.6
C18:3 Linolenic 3.6
Total Saturated 141
Total Monounsaturated 162
Total Polyunsaturated 40.2

So a very large proportion of the fat is saturated and monounsaturated.

From the article:

Mice fed a high fat diet for 6 weeks had a significantly higher body weight as compared to the control group (34.8±1.99 and 24.1±0.72 g, respectively)

Since this is being tried to be imposed on humans, let's consider what kind of person the high-fat-diet mice are. It we consider a 24g mouse to be a normal-weight 70kg human, the high-fat-diet mice weigh 101 kg, in other words, seriously overweight.

Unfortunately, this result of this study is not about the effect of a high-fat diet on arteries. It's about the effect of obesity on arteries.

If it had been about the effect of a high-fat diet itself, it would have included a control group that received a high-fat diet with the same calorie-content that the 'low fat' group received. Only then would you be able to say anything about the effect of fat in the diet on the arteries of mice.

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