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Obesity bad for the brain

23 August 2012

Obesity bad for the brain

Everyone knows that being overweight is bad for your health, but new research has shown that carrying around that extra weight could be bad for you brain too.

A study looked at 6,000 British people aged between 35 and 55 over a 10 year period. They were given memory tests three times over this period. The results showed that people who were both obese and had unhealthy metabolic changes showed a faster decline in their cognitive scores compared to others in the study.

Scientists were keen to stress that the study only looked at cognitive function and not dementia. Doubt could also be cast on the results because all the participants were from one group of civil service workers which may mean that the results can’t be applied to the general population without further testing.

Researchers said, “More research is needed to look at the effects of genetic factors and also to take into account how long people have been obese and how long they have had these metabolic risk factors and also to look at cognitive test scores spanning adulthood to give us a better understanding of the link between obesity and cognitive function, such as thinking, reasoning and memory.”

Shirley Cramer of the Alzheimer’s Research UK said, “We do not yet know why obesity and metabolic abnormality are linked to poorer brain performance, but with obesity levels on the rise, it will be important to delve a little deeper into this association. While the study itself focuses on cognitive decline, previous research suggests that a healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol in midlife can also help stave off dementia. With dementia figures spiralling towards a million, the findings suggest we should be conscious of our general health throughout life.”