Obesity has several bad effects on your health. It makes you prone to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease and puts you at risk of bone, joint, liver and kidney diseases.
A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease suggests that as you gain weight, blood circulation in your brain starts to reduce. This can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease eventually. The study suggests that obesity may be targeted to improve brain function and to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Being overweight can not only make you prone to Alzheimer’s but also affects your brain function in various ways. Obesity can make you forgetful and it can reduce your thinking and understanding skills over time.
Here are three effects of obesity on the brain that have been suggested in studies over time.
1. It causes your brain to age more quickly
The human brain contains something called white matter in its deeper parts. White matter helps us in learning and picking up skills, however, its levels gradually decrease with age. Now, studies have shown that obesity makes a person’s brain age more quickly. Obese people are shown to have lesser white matter in their brain as compared to those with normal weight. In a study done on 473 people, obese people were noted to have a 10 year older brain than healthy people.
Obesity also reduces your overall brain size. A study done in UK suggested that obese people tend to have smaller brains and lesser grey matter. The outer layers of the brain are made of grey matter. This area helps us to function well in everyday life as it controls movement, emotions and memory.
2. It makes you overeat
Overeating is one of the causes of obesity. However, obesity may change your brain so that you tend to overeat as well. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience indicated that obesity negatively affects the area of the brain that gives you the pleasurable feeling when eating foods that you like. As a result, obese people tend to eat more food to get the same pleasure they used to get from eating less. This starts a vicious loop of excessive eating and weight gain.
3. It puts you at risk of dementia and memory loss
A study done in the UK claimed that obese people have a higher risk of developing dementia (loss of memory and cognition) later in life than those with a healthy weight. In particular, women and those who have excess belly fat are said to be at a higher risk.
It is suggested that obesity may reduce blood circulation in the brain and cause various metabolic disturbances in the body and brain that eventually leads to dementia. However, some experts say that it may not be obesity itself but hypertension and other things associated with obesity that may be contributing to dementia risk.
A study done in mice showed that obesity causes certain changes in the brain that can cause your memory to deteriorate. A study done on menopausal women found that morbid obesity (too much body weight) can cause a reduction in memory span.
For more information, read our article on Obesity: Causes, Prevention and Treatment.
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