The study by UNSW found that young rats would almost always choose foods like cakes, pies and chips over so called ‘healthy’ rat fare like pellets.

Professor Margaret Morris from UNSW Medicine and PhD student Sarah Martire from UNSW Science wrote in their paper that rats exposed to what they called a ‘cafeteria style’ diet increased their body weights by 270 per cent in 16 weeks compared with the control group.

“The main point of the paper is that the rats who snacked on unhealthy foods early on ended up becoming heavier,” say the authors in an extract of their paper printed on Sky News.

The cafeteria diet is roughly the average Australian intake of 32 per cent fat, 15 per cent protein and 53 per cent carbohydrates… Which bodes poorly for most of us.

“It is hard to draw a direct link with humans, but we think this is partly what is happening in the Western world because we have so much variety.”

Another ‘remarkable’ find of the study was that the cafeteria rats would often snack between meals, without cutting down on the number of meals they would eat in a day. 

All the rats in the cafeteria group were offered healthy food along with those high in fat and sodium, but these alternatives only made up about 10 per cent of their gorging.

‘If you give animals unlimited choice of yummy foods, they will behave in a way that will encourage weight gain.”

So, there you have it. If given the opportunity rats, much like humans, will gorge themselves to the point of morbid obesity. What a great piece of scientific research, one that will help us better understand obesity in humans… Wait, no it wont. The professor herself said it was hard to draw a direct link with human beings.

Besides the control group, presumably only eating the so called ‘healthy’ rat food still managed to gorge themselves to the point of ballooning their body weights to 170 per cent of normal in 16 weeks.

So what exactly was the point of this ridiculous experiment anyway? Just to make really fat rats I suppose.

Image: Getty