CogniFit's Science blog: Obesity And The Brain

Obesity And The Brain

It is known that obesity and overweight take their toll on our bodies. They appear to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension or cancer. Now there is scientific evidence that obesity and even overweight have a detrimental effect on our brains as well.

Recent research has shown that obese people have up to 8% less brain tissue than people who are of normal weight. For people considered as 'overweight' this number would be around 4%.

The brains of obese people looked 16 years older than the brains of people who were lean, and overweight people’s brains looked 8 years older. According to Paul Thompson, the senior author of the study and a professor of neurology at UCLA, this loss of brain tissue deletes cognitive reserves and puts people at a bigger risk for Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. The main loss of brain tissue in obese people occurred in the frontal and temporal lobes, the area of the brain that is involved in planning and memory. There was also loss in the anterior cingulated gyrus, the area involved in executive functions; the hippocampus, needed for long-term memory; and the basal ganglia, needed for movement.

Overweight people showed loss in the basal ganglia, the corona radiata, white matter and the parietal lobe (sensory lobe). There are more than 300 million people in the world classified as obese, according to the World Health Organization. Another billion are overweight.

The risk of Alzheimer’s and other brain disease can be greatly reduced by following a healthy diet and keeping your weight down. Now we have another good reason to eat well and get active.