Weight gain = brain drain?

A new study published in Human Brain Mapping finds the more pounds you gain, the more your brain shrinks. The research found that elderly people who are obese have 8 percent less brain tissue than those of a normal weight. Individuals who are considered overweight, but not obese, have 4 percent less brain tissue.

The researchers examined brain scans of 94 people in their 70s – all were healthy and did not have any cognitive issues. They discovered that the overweight and obese individuals lost the majority of brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain; the areas responsible for planning and memory.

Dr. Paul Thompson, senior author of the study says:

“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.”

Thompson also explained the brain images of the obese participants looked approximately 16 years older than the brains of those who are a normal weight, while the brains of overweight individuals looked about eight years older.

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 300 million people worldwide are considered obese. WHO projects this number could increase to 700 million by 2015.

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