Researchers seeking to further explore the well-known link between obesity and chronic pain have concluded that the typical American diet may be particularly culpable in that it may delay recovery from hypersensitivity and enhance susceptibility to pain. The team, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, focused on the impact of the Total Western Diet (TWD), typically consisting of foods containing fewer calories from proteins and more from saturated and monosaturated fats and carbohydrates. This diet is common to cultures in the Western world, and particularly the United States. The findings appear online in the Journal of Pain.
In the study, mice receiving the TWD registered an increase in fat mass and decrease in lean mass after 13 weeks. They also displayed increases in proinflammatory cytokines, signals that promote systemic inflammation, as well as increases in serum leptin, a hormone secreted by adipose tissue that acts to regulate long-term appetite and energy expenditure. When subjected to heat and pressure, the mice also showed increased hypersensitivity and delayed recovery. The authors concluded that prolonged exposure to poor-quality diet resulted in an altered perception of pain through acute nociceptive sensitivity, systemic inflammation, and persistent pain following chronic pain induction.
Read more about the findings here.
The journal abstract may be read here.