Sensitivity to obesity is highly variable in humans, and rats fed a high fat diet (HFD) are used as a model of this inhomogeneity. Energy expenditure components (basal metabolism, thermic effect of feeding, activity) and variations in substrate partitioning are possible factors underlying the variability. Unfortunately, in rats as in humans, results have often been inconclusive and measurements usually made after obesity onset, obscuring if metabolism was a cause or consequence. Additionally, the role of high carbohydrate diet (HCD) has seldom been studied.
Rats (n=24) were fed for 3 weeks on HCD and then 3 weeks on HFD. Body composition was tracked by MRI and compared to energy expenditure components measured prior to obesity. Results: 1) under HFD, as expected, by adiposity rats were variable enough to be separable into relatively fat resistant (FR) and sensitive (FS) groups, 2) under HCD, and again by adiposity, rats were also variable enough to be separable into carbohydrate resistant (CR) and sensitive (CS) groups, the normal body weight of CS rats hiding viscerally-biased fat accumulation, 3) HCD adiposity sensitivity was not related to that under HFD, and both HCD and HFD adiposity sensitivities were not related to energy expenditure components (BMR, TEF, activity cost), and 4) only carbohydrate to fat partitioning in response to an HCD test meal was related to HCD-induced adiposity.
The rat model of human obesity is based on substantial variance in adiposity gains under HFD (FR/FS model). Here, since we also found this phenomenon under HCD, where it was also linked to an identifiable metabolic difference, we should consider the existence of another model: the carbohydrate resistant (CR) or sensitive (CS) rat. This new model is potentially complementary to the FR/FS model due to relatively greater visceral fat accumulation on a low fat high carbohydrate diet.