NYC Rodents Are Getting Diabetes From Fast Food, Study Suggests

A diet of human food waste is contributing to health problems in urban rodent environments, a new study suggests.

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NYC Rodents Are Getting Diabetes From Fast Food, Study Suggests

NEW YORK, NY — It's been a good couple of years for New York City's rodents. Pizza rat, donut rat, selfie rat and a number of their rodent friends have risen to viral video fame.

 

But is insulin rat next?

Health problems such as obesity and diabetes are plaguing New York City's rodent population compared to the vermin's suburban counterparts – and the suspected cause is the human diet, according to a new study.

Researchers at the City University of New York and Fordham University discovered that the diet of city mice and rats — who eat a larger share of human food waste than suburban rodents — could result in evolutionary changes in the animals.

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Researchers analyzed 48 white-footed mice, some from city parks and some from rural areas, and tested the two groups to detect genetic differences, according to the study. The study uncovered a total of 381 genetic differences, 19 of which researchers focused on.

The differences in urban mice showed signs of stemming from fatty liver disease. As the study describes it, fatty liver disease is "a major hallmark of obesity and diabetes and can be induced through increased uptake of dietary fatty acids."

City rats likely have an increased uptake in dietary fatty acids due to the consumption of human food waste such as fast food left on the street and in the city's garbage. That's right, even rat's have trouble tolerating Big Macs, Taco Bell and Whoppers.

While the CUNY study was able to detect the genetic differences between urban and rural rodents, more research is need to confirm diet as the cause.

Read the full study here.

Photo by Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

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