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Being Overweight Affects The Brain

- Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh scanned the brains of 94 people over the age of 70. They were looking to see the differences in the brains of people who were of normal weight (BMI under 25), overweight (BMI 25-30), and obese (BMI over 30).

All participants were over 70 to shows the effects of being overweight over time.

Obese people have 8% less brain tissue than people of normal weight. Overweight people have 4% less brain tissue than people of normal weight.

According to Dr. Paul Thompson, a UCLA professor of neurology, “This represents ‘severe’ brain degeneration, that’s a big loss of tissue and it depletes your cognitive reserves, putting you at a much greater risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that attack the brain… But you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s, if you can eat healthy and keep your weight under control.”

“Looking good” is the number one motivation for losing weight, but if that works, great.

However, to many, this new research is more important. There is nothing more important than having a brain that works. It affects everything in your life, including and especially the people around you and your caregivers.

There are also many studies that show being overweight decreases short term memory, and decreases your engery level. So, essentially, being overweight makes you forgetful and inactive.

Of course, being overweight also increases your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and has been shown to inhibit sexual performance.

The parts of the brain that degenerated for overweight people are very important.
Here are the areas effected:

•   Frontal and temporal lobes: Critical for planning and memory
•   Anterior cingulate gyrus: Responsible for attention and executive functions
•   Hippocampus: Important for long-term memory
•   Basal ganglia: Essential for proper movement and coordination

Furthermore, the brains of overweight people looked 8 years older than those of people of normal weight, and the brains of obese people looked 16 years older!

Original article on Exploring the Mind