Why Rats Don't Have Beer Bellies

Call it the Super Bowl diet: When the humble lab rat drinks a brewsky or two, he (or she) stays trim by cutting other sources of calories, a new study shows. The new rat research sheds light on the internal "stop" signals that rats obey - but we all-too-human people don't. More than 50 years ago, scientists noticed that Americans tend to consider alcoholic beverages as a drug, not as a source of nutrition and calories. Since then, researchers have studied humans and animals, finding that rats instinctively manage their weight by not eating as much when they get calories from alcohol. Humans seem to ignore those internal stop signs. Of course, things aren't quite so simple for humans, notes lead researcher Neil Rowland, PhD, in a news release. His report appears in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. There's the whole sobriety issue, he notes. If you cut back on food, the brewskies have a dangerous effect on driving. Also, humans fall prey to the psychological bombardment of social expectations and cute advertising campaigns. "Behavior in humans is complicated ... it's difficult to say no," he notes. But those brewskies - plus party food -- factor into the human waistline. We know that's not getting any smaller, says Rowland, who is a professor of psychology at the University of Florida at Gainesville.

Back to news