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Objective: Prior research has shown that fasting alternated with a diet of standard rodent chow and a 10% sucrose solution produces bingeing on the sucrose, but animals remain at normal body weight. The present study investigated whether restricted access to a highly palatable combination of sugar and fat, without food deprivation, would instigate binge eating and also increase body weight.

Methods and Procedures: Male rats were maintained for 25 days on one of four diets: (i) sweet-fat chow for 2 h/day followed by ad libitum standard chow, (ii) 2-h sweet-fat chow only 3 days/week and access to standard chow the rest of the time, (iii) ad libitum sweet-fat chow, or (iv) ad libitum standard chow.

Results: Both groups with 2-h access to the sweet-fat chow exhibited bingeing behavior, as defined by excessively large meals. The body weight of these animals increased due to large meals and then decreased between binges as a result of self-restricted intake of standard chow following binges. However, despite these fluctuations in body weight, the group with 2-h access to sweet-fat chow every day gained significantly more weight than the control group with standard chow available ad libitum.

Discussion: These findings may have implications for the body weight fluctuations associated with binge-eating disorder, as well as the relationship between binge eating and the obesity epidemic.