Feb 25, 2019

Obesity and the brain

A study has come out showing that overweight people have lower brain volume

Researchers from UCL and Loughborough University have apparently discovered that people with excess fat around their tummies have less grey matter in their brains than people of healthy weight/normal BMI.

Their research measured the BMI and waist-to-hip ratio of almost 10,000 middle-aged people and correlated this with brain MRI scans to look at brain volume.
They discovered that obese people with a BMI of more than 30, and a high waist-to-hip ratio (ie more weight around the middle), had a smaller average grey matter volume than those of a healthy weight. However, strangely, obese people without a high waist-to-hip ratio (ie fat more evenly distributed around the body) demonstrated less sign of brain shrinkage.

This would suggest that extra fat around the middle of one’s body is a crucial point.
The researchers from Loughborough and UCL were uncertain as to what was the chicken and what was the egg here, ie is it loss of grey matter driving obesity, or vice versa. The other important question is are there other causal factors here: is it, for example, that poor diet and lack of exercise are causing both?

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