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How does fast food encourage my body to store more fat?

Sure, no one needs the fat and calories in a double cheeseburger with fries. But research suggests it's not the fat and calories you should fear.

It's the impact they have on your opioid receptors. Your what? Your opioid receptors. Animal research suggests that fatty, sugary, high-calorie foods cause weight gain because they stimulate fat-storage genes, which then turns up the inner pound-packing dial. Salad bar, anyone?

Researchers believe kappa opioid receptors play an important role in fat metabolism and that eating foods high in fat and sugar somehow stimulates these receptors not only to promote weight gain but also to store fat in bad places. In the animal study, an unhealthful diet didn't just increase body fat. It encouraged fat storage in the liver, too. And it zapped energy levels. Bottom line: Garbage in means garbage stays -- and makes you tired, too!

More research is needed to determine if the impact fatty foods have on opioid receptors in animals holds true for our bodies, too.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.