Diet choice patterns in rodents depend on novelty of the diet, exercise, species, and sex

Tiffany Yang, Wei Jie Xu, Haley York, Nu Chu Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prolonged consumption of a palatable, high fat (HF) diet paired with a lack of physical activity can exacerbate the development of obesity. Exercise can facilitate the maintenance of a healthy body weight, possibly though mediating changes in diet preference. Using a two-diet choice and wheel running (WR) paradigm, our laboratory previously demonstrated that WR induces HF diet avoidance with different persistency in male and female rats when HF diet and WR are introduced simultaneously. The aims of this study were to examine whether this behavior is species dependent and to what extent the novelty of the diet affects WR induced HF diet avoidance. Experiment 1 utilized male C57BL6 mice in a two-diet choice and WR paradigm. Results show that all mice preferred HF to chow diet regardless of exercise and the order in which exercise and HF diet were presented. Experiment 2A (diet novelty) utilized Sprague-Dawley rats that were first habituated to a 45% HF diet prior to the simultaneous introduction of WR and a novel high-carbohydrate, low-fat (DK) diet. All rats avoided the novel high-carbohydrate diet and neither male nor female wheel running rats exhibited reduction in HF diet intake or HF diet avoidance. After all rats were returned to a sedentary condition, female rats consumed significantly more of the DK diet than the male rats. In Experiment 2B (diet familiarity), rats remained sedentary and were re-habituated to the DK diet until intake stabilized. Subsequently, a 60% HF diet was introduced for all rats and for running rats, access to the running wheels were provided simultaneously. Consistent with our previous findings, HF diet intake and preference was significantly reduced in all wheel running rats. These data suggest that exercise induced HF diet avoidance is affected by species and the novelty of the diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Diet preference
  • High fat diet
  • Sex difference
  • Wheel running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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