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Junk Food Diet in Teens Linked to Long-Term Memory Problems: USC Study

A recent study led by USC suggests that teenagers who consume a diet high in fats and sugars may experience long-lasting memory issues. Scott Kanoski, a professor at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, explained that rats fed a junk food diet during their youth exhibited memory impairments that persisted into adulthood, even after switching to a healthy diet.

The research, published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, aimed to understand how poor diet choices during adolescence affect memory. Lead author Anna Hayes highlighted the importance of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in memory function, drawing parallels between rats' memory impairments and those observed in Alzheimer's disease.

The study involved tracking acetylcholine levels in rats on a fatty, sugary diet and conducting memory tests. Rats fed the junk food diet struggled to remember objects and their locations compared to a control group.

Kanoski emphasised the sensitivity of adolescence to brain development, suggesting that some damage may be irreversible if not addressed during childhood. However, the study also found hope in medication that boosts acetylcholine release, which restored memory function in rats.

While the findings shed light on the detrimental effects of unhealthy diets on memory, further research is needed to explore interventions for reversing memory problems caused by junk food consumption during adolescence.

The study, led by researchers from USC Dornsife College and other institutions, highlights teamwork in studying how diet affects memory. It stresses the need for teenagers to eat healthily to protect their thinking skills as they grow up. By eating right now, teens can help keep their brains sharp later in life. This research shows that by working together, scientists can learn more about how food influences our brains, which can benefit everyone

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