The effects of scheduled running wheel access on binge-like eating behavior and its consequences

Jennifer Albertz, Gretha J. Boersma, Kellie L. Tamashiro, Timothy H. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder involving repeated, intermittent over consumption of food in brief periods of time, usually with no compensatory behaviors. There are few successful treatments and the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear. In the current study, we hypothesized that voluntary running wheel (RW) activity could reduce binge-like eating behavior in a rat model. Rats were given intermittent (3 times/wk) limited (1hr) access to a high-fat food (Crisco), in addition to continuously available chow. Crisco was available every Mon, Wed, and Fri for 1hr before dark onset. Rats were divided into 2 groups: those with RW access during the first half of the experiment and sedentary during the second half (RW-SED) and those that were sedentary during the first half of the experiment and had RW access during the second half (SED-RW). Crisco intake was significantly less in both groups during the period of time with a RW present. Within the bingeing RW-SED rats, the gene expression of the orexigenic neuropeptides AgRP and NPY were similar to a non-bingeing sedentary control (CON) group, while the expression of the anorexigenic neuropeptide POMC was significantly increased relative to the SED-RW and CON groups. Despite elevated POMC, the rats continued to binge. Additionally, within both groups, the gene expression of the D2R and Oprm1 in the NAc and the VTA were altered suggesting that the reward system was stimulated by both the bingeing behavior and the running wheel activity. Overall, access to a RW and the resulting activity significantly reduced binge-like behavior as well as modulated the effects of binging on brain appetite and reward systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-184
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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