Hippocampal-dependent appetitive control is impaired by experimental exposure to a Western-style diet

Richard J. Stevenson*, Heather M. Francis, Tuki Attuquayefio, Dolly Gupta, Martin R. Yeomans, Megan J. Oaten, Terry Davidson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)
    56 Downloads (Pure)


    Animals fed a Western-style diet (WS-diet) demonstrate rapid impairments in hippocampal function and poorer appetitive control. We examined if this also occurs in humans. One-hundred and ten healthy lean adults were randomized to either a one-week WS-diet intervention or a habitual-diet control group. Measures of hippocampal-dependent learning and memory (HDLM) and of appetitive control were obtained pre- and post-intervention. HDLM was retested at three-week follow-up. Relative to controls, HDLM performance declined in the WS-diet group (d = 0.43), but was not different at followup. Appetitive control also declined in the WS-diet group (d = 0.47) and this was strongly correlated with HDLM decline (d = 1.01). These findings demonstrate that a WS-diet can rapidly impair appetitive control in humans-an effect that could promote overeating in consumers of a WS-diet. The study also suggests a functional role for the hippocampus in appetitive control and provides new evidence for the adverse neurocognitive effects of a WS-diet.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number191338
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalRoyal Society Open Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • inhibition
    • appetite
    • ingestive behaviour
    • Western-style diet


    Dive into the research topics of 'Hippocampal-dependent appetitive control is impaired by experimental exposure to a Western-style diet'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this