Diseases & MedicineHealth Living

Excess weight may hasten the aging of the brain

  1. Obesity and overweight raise the risk of a variety of health problems.
  2. Excess body weight may potentially damage cognitive performance, according to a new Canadian study, with inflammation perhaps playing a role.
  3. In cognitive tests, people with extra fatty tissue scored lower on processing speed.
  4. Physical activity, which increases blood flow to the brain, may assist those with a high BMI avoid cognitive deterioration (BMI).

Excess body weight is well-known to be linked to a variety of health problems. Source you can trust. Researchers have discovered a link between adiposity (excess fatty tissue in the body) and cognitive impairment.

Canadian researchers estimated the adiposity of almost 9,000 participants at the start of a new study published in JAMA . Total body fat and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) — the fat that primarily surrounds organs in the abdominal cavity — were both measured.

According to previous research visceral fat(VAT), is linked to increased morbidity and mortality risk. Visceral fat raises the risk of a variety of ailments, including:

  • heart disease, including heart attacks
  • type 2 diabetes
  • raised blood pressure
  • stroke
  • breast and colorectal cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Excess fat may have both mental and physical consequences, according to a new study

Tests of cognition

The Digital Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) were given to all subjects to examine a variety of cognitive processes.

The researchers took into account cardiovascular risk factors, educational level, and vascular brain injury found by MRI, which has been linked to cognitive impairment.

The researchers discovered that having a greater total body fat percentage and a higher VAT were both linked to poorer DSST and MoCA scores. On the DSST, which measures processing speed, the link was stronger than on the MoCA, which is a comprehensive cognitive test.

The performance of individuals in the top quartile was comparable to an additional 3 years of cognitive aging when compared to those in the lowest quartile (25 percent) of obesity.

These findings are not surprising, according to Dr. Anton Porsteinsson, professor and director of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research, and Education Program (AD-CARE):

“It is widely established that higher levels of adiposity and body fat are linked to higher levels of cardiovascular risk factors, which are linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline. Excess adiposity was found to be a risk factor for lower cognitive scores, regardless of cardiovascular risk factors, educational level, or MRI-detected vascular brain injury in this cross-sectional study.”

This study backs up findings from a prior study of older persons in Dublin, which demonstrated a link between obesity, especially central adiposity, and poor cognitive function.

Possible causes

As Dr. Eamon Laird, a senior research researcher at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, pointed out to MNT, this study cannot prove a causal link between obesity and cognitive impairment:

“Because it’s cross-sectional, it’s difficult to break out the connections and determine whether visceral adiposity is causal rather than just connected with lower cognitive scores.” However, the link is undeniable.”

The researchers took into account cardiovascular risk and vascular brain injury, both of which have been linked to cognitive impairment in previous studies. So, what else could be the cause of the link?

Inflammation’s impact

According to the scientists, inflammation may play a role in cognitive impairment in people who are overweight or obese. High levels of plasma C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker, were detected among those with a high BMI and a high waist-hip ratio in a recent study encompassing over 15,000 people.

“Systemic inflammation and glucose intolerance emerge as lead suspects,” said Dr. Porsteinsson, who agreed with this notion.

Dr. Laird agrees that inflammation plays a role. “Pro-inflammatory cytokines from adipose tissue may also be contributing to tissue damage through inflammation,” he said.

Reduced blood flow and hypertension

There are several more mechanisms that could be used. Dr. Laird informed MNT that “adiposity can often go hand in hand with other chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, which could represent a distinct cause.”

“Obesity may be linked to reduced blood flow to the brain, which may raise the risk of vascular microcellular injury, which could lead to a decrease in cognitive test score,” he noted. In another study co-authored by Dr. Laird, investigators discovered that a 1-centimeter rise in waist size resulted in the same loss in blood flow as one year of aging.

Combating cognitive decline

What can people do to help combat this? This study reinforces prior results that overweight and obesity are linked to cognitive impairment.

Dr. Porsteinsson recommended various measures that may help: “Weight loss, exercise (including aerobic and resistance training), diabetes/glucose intolerance management, and speed of processing cognitive training are only a few examples.”

According to research, people with a high BMI or a high waist-hip ratio who were inactive had significantly decreased cerebral blood flow. Dr. Laird went on to say:

“Because physical activity may be able to regulate the obesity/blood flow correlations, this [raising physical activity] could be a cost-effective and very simple strategy to help alleviate the detrimental effects of obesity.”

There are numerous unsolved concerns in this study, such as why a task of processing speed (DSST) is more impacted than a multidimensional cognitive exam, thus more research is needed.”


In conclusion, keeping a healthy weight may help both the brain and the body.


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