Wheel running decreases palatable diet preference in Sprague-Dawley rats

Laura Moody, Joy Liang, Pique P. Choi, Timothy H. Moran, Nu Chu Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical activity has beneficial effects on not only improving some disease conditions but also by preventing the development of multiple disorders. Experiments in this study examined the effects of wheel running on intakes of chow and palatable diet e.g. high fat (HF) or high sucrose (HS) diet in male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. Experiment 1 demonstrated that acute wheel running results in robust HF or HS diet avoidance in male rats. Although female rats with running wheel access initially showed complete avoidance of the two palatable diets, the avoidance of the HS diet was transient. Experiment 2 demonstrated that male rats developed decreased HF diet preferences regardless of the order of diet and wheel running access presentation. Running associated changes in HF diet preference in females, on the other hand, depended on the testing schedule. In female rats, simultaneous presentation of the HF diet and running access resulted in transient complete HF diet avoidance whereas running experience prior to HF diet access did not affect the high preference for the HF diet. Ovariectomy in females resulted in HF diet preference patterns that were similar to those in male rats during simultaneous exposure of HF and wheel running access but similar to intact females when running occurred before HF exposure. Overall, the results demonstrated wheel running associated changes in palatable diet preferences that were in part sex dependent. Furthermore, ovarian hormones play a role in some of the sex differences. These data reveal complexity in the mechanisms underlying exercise associated changes in palatable diet preference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-63
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Oct 5 2015


  • Diet preference
  • Ovarian hormones
  • Ovariectomy
  • Sex difference
  • Wheel running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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