We have all heard about nutrition and behavioral studies performed on lab rats or mice that require the animals to be fat. Studies on obesity are conducted on these fattened animals. But how do scientists make the test subjects fat? After all, when was the last time you saw an animal that was fat of it’s own accord, without the help of humans?
Scientists fatten lab rats by feeding them food containing a particular amino acid called monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG damages the hypothalamus in the brain. This area of the brain regulates appetite among other things. The lab animals’ brains become resistant to leptin, a hormone that controls how much the animals feel like eating. When MSG is consumed, the fullness, satisfaction, and gratification of eating is not felt. This leads to a constant urge to eat. The animals eat and eat and eat, and that’s how they become fat. Then we do tests on them.
MSG is found in many processed foods labeled for consumption by humans. You might be surprised just where it is found, and under what disguised name. The name “MSG” has earned a reputation among people who are trying to eat healthy foods. Product manufacturers therefore choose from a grab-bag of ingredient names, hoping that you the consumer won’t stop buying their product because it contains MSG.
Alternate names for MSG in food (a sampling, there are many more):
Vegetable Protein Extract
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Modified Food Starch
Soy Protein Isolate
See how these alter-egos of MSG have great words like “vegetable,” “soy,” and “protein” in them? Skip these ingredients and go grab some actual vegetables, not their isolates.
If you were walking down the grocery aisle and you saw the chips area and some Pringles caught your eye, you might like to try them because the can says “multigrain” and there is no MSG in the ingredients list. How bad can they be? After all, there is a big beautiful picture of a wheat stalk on the front.
In reality this product contains 4 forms of MSG (maltodextrin, wheat starch, modified rice starch, malted barley flour). The manufacturer lists them 4 ways to “keep the label clean,” and avoid putting those dreaded 3 letters on the can.
How do you make a lab rat fat? The same way you make people fat–by feeding them MSG.