Obesity changes a lot in the body: blood sugar, the cardiovascular system, and the ability to move around. We are now beginning to understand that obesity also impacts the brain.
For example, in a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, it was discovered that children who were overweight did more poorly on memory tests. The researchers studied children ages 7 to 9. The children in the study were classified as non-overweight or overweight/obese, and were asked to complete memory tests. Among the overweight/obese children, total abdominal fat was a significant negative predictor of memory accuracy.
The same seems to hold true for adults. In another study published in July, researchers suspected that higher body mass index (BMI) may be associated with reduced memory performance. A total of 50 participants ages 18 to 35 participated in the study to determine if there was a relationship. The researchers found higher BMI was associated with significantly lower memory performance. Things like object identification, location memory, and temporal order memory were all impacted by BMI.
The link between obesity and the brain is a growing area of research. Preliminary findings between the association of memory impairment and obesity are, so far, significant across all ages. Some suspect that there might be a bidirectional influence between weight and brain function, meaning that brain deficits could also cause obesity in some people. This latest research provides another important reason to keep a healthy body weight throughout the lifespan.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.