Study: weight gain shrinks brain

A new Livescience.com article reports that obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals, researchers said.

Those classified as overweight have 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains appear to have aged prematurely by eight years.

The results, based on brain scans of 94 people in their 70s, represent “severe brain degeneration,” said Paul Thompson, senior author of the study and a UCLA professor of neurology.

“That’s a big loss of tissue and it depletes your cognitive reserves, putting you at much greater risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that attack the brain,” said Thompson. “But you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s, if you can eat healthily and keep your weight under control.”

The findings are detailed in the online edition of the journal Human Brain Mapping.

Obesity packs many negative health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and some cancers. It’s also been shown to reduce sexual activity.

More than 300 million worldwide are now classified as obese, according to the World Health Organization. Another billion are overweight. The main cause, experts say: bad diet, including an increased reliance on highly processed foods.

Obese people had lost brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes, areas of the brain critical for planning and memory, and in the anterior cingulate gyrus (attention and executive functions), hippocampus (long-term memory) and basal ganglia (movement), the researchers said in a statement.

Overweight people showed brain loss in the basal ganglia, the corona radiata, white matter comprised of axons, and the parietal lobe (sensory lobe).

“The brains of obese people looked 16 years older than the brains of those who were lean, and in overweight people looked 8 years older,” Thompson said.

Obesity is measured by body mass index (BMI), defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. A BMI over 25 is defined as overweight, and a BMI of over 30 as obese.

The research was funded by the National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Center for Research Resources, and the American Heart Association.

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Passionate in her concern for people, Lori Drummond has dedicated herself to helping others gain better health through better nutrition. That's why Good Health Consulting Inc. exists. The lifelong wellness disciple knows there are no magic wands to a healthy life, but that amazing results can follow careful, committed choices. A registered, clinical dietitian and learning-hungry entreprenuer, Lori wants to share her compassionate competency with you so that you might have a more active, extended life. So much life awaits you. Start making good choices today that will benefit you and your loved ones for years. Call Lori at 786-390-3540 or write to her at LDrummond_RD@earthlink.net

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