Obesity could affect brain power
The dangers obesity poses to health are well known. Now a new study has identified a link between obesity and reduced cognitive function.
Scientific researchers have analysed the brain power of individuals suffering from metabolism related disorders including obesity, high blood pressure, low levels of HDL (good cholesterol), high blood sugar levels and high triglycerides. 6401 individuals with an average age of 50 took part in the study. Each had their Body Mass Index (BMI) measured and were assessed for risk factors before taking memory tests designed to evaluate their cognitive ability. They underwent the tests at the beginning of the study and then three times over the next 10 years. Overall, 31% of the participants had at least two metabolic disorders, 9.1% were obese and 38.2% were overweight. Out of the 582 who were obese, 350 had an abnormal metabolism.
Over the course of the 10 years, those who were obese and affected by a metabolic disorder showed a sharp decline in cognitive function - 22.5% more than individuals who were a normal weight and did not have a metabolic disorder. The individuals who were obese but did not have an abnormal metabolism also showed signs of deterioration in brain function.
The scientist behind the study, Professor Singh-Manoux from the University of London and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, says there are many explanations as to why brain power might be affected by obesity. The substances secreted by fat cells could be harmful to neurones, and strain on the blood vessels could mean the brain does not get enough oxygen because of a diminished blood supply. He says more research is needed in order to understand the link between obesity and brain power better. As obesity continues to rise in developed countries, this question could become increasingly important.
Obesity phenotypes in midlife and cognition in early old age -Archana Singh-Manoux et al. - Neurology August 21, 2012 vol. 79 no. 8 755-762 (abstract online)
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