'Cafeteria diet,' rich in fat, sugar and sodium, is often a short-cut to stroke or death at a younger age, said a Canadian study and warned that people in their 30s or 40s may even suffer from dementia due to this junk food diet. Researchers found that such a diet induced most symptoms of metabolic syndrome - a combination of high levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and obesity - in rats after only two months. The animals were as old as a 16 to 22 years old human being at the time of disease onset, says Dale Corbett, scientific director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Centre for Stroke Recovery (Canada), who led the study.
"I think we'll soon start to see people in their 30s or 40s having strokes, having dementia, because of this junk food diet," says Dr. Corbett. "Young people will have major, major problems much earlier in life," Corbett added, according to a Heart and Stroke Foundation statement. Researchers gave sedentary rats unlimited access to both nutritional food pellets and a daily selection of common junk food items including cookies, sausage and cupcakes. Animals were also given access to both water and a 30 percent sucrose solution designed to imitate soft drinks. Like humans, the animals greatly preferred to consume the treats. Corbett highlights the importance of preventing metabolic syndrome with regular exercise and a balanced diet. "We're not sure whether metabolic syndrome can be reversed. If it can't, and we continue to live and eat like this, then we're each a ticking time bomb of health problems." These findings were presented at the the Canadian Stroke Congress.