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Obesity Can Lead to Brain Degeneration

Not only can extreme obesity take 10 years off your life, it could also be prematurely aging your brain. According to a new study published in Human Brain Mapping, the brains of obese people look 16 years older than those of lean people, due to eight percent less brain tissue on average. The brains of individuals classified as "overweight" appear eight years older than those of normal-weight people.

Though the study was rather small — 94 brain scans of subjects in their 70s — researchers concluded that the loss of brain tissue due to weight problems could put patients at higher risk of Alzheimer's. According to study author and UCLA neurology professor Paul Thompson, "you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer's, if you can eat healthily and keep your weight under control." So shape up your body, and the mind will follow.

Every day, it seems, we read about another health risk tied to obesity, but this is one of the most surprising I've come across. Does this shock you?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
kscincotta kscincotta 7 years
This isn't surprising to me in the least because I study Alzheimer's Disease. The amyloid that accumulates in the brain in AD is related to cholesterol and high cholesterol levels have long been associated with an increased risk of developing AD. It is also well known that exercise in general is good for neural health. Any neurologist that you talk to will tell you the two best things you can do for your mental health as you age is to challenge your brain and challenge your body every day. And no, wackdoodle, it isn't about discriminating against fat people. It's about how the brain ages and how your long term lifestyle affects that.
HAMLET2 HAMLET2 7 years
thou shall decrease thy waistline (among others) for the untmost crucial reason- SEX APPEAL and then the rest follows, which includes a healthy heart and a whole lot of other organs
Spectra Spectra 7 years
While it doesn't surprise me, there are quite a few other risks that lead to developing Alzheimer's as well. My grandpa was thin his whole life, but he developed Alzheimer's. He was an alcoholic for close to 40 years though, so I'm wondering if that had something to do with it.
darc5204 darc5204 7 years
Faylinn, it wasn't just 94 obese people in their 70's who happened to have brain degeneration. Within the sample, it was found that those who were obese had greater degeneration than those who were not, with those whose who were overweight but not obese somewhere in the middle. Nonetheless, the sample size is pretty small and more extensive research is definitely needed.
Faylinn Faylinn 7 years
I'd give this test more credence if the 94 (such a small sample) test subjects weren't only in their 70s, an age in which brain degeneration is not unheard of.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
Just another way to discriminate against fat people - now employers can question the intelligence of fat people as well as their self-control. Wrong. I know plenty of incredibly stupid s"skinny" people.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Truthfully, no. Obesity runs in my family. I already suspected that their brains were affected, as their other organs (heart, liver, kidneys, etc.) were. Oh well.
Mariana48 Mariana48 7 years
uhm that study does seem sketchy but it wouldn't surprise me if it were true
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I have a 90 year old grand mother who still walks everywhere, does (modified)yoga, and is in tip top shape for her age. She's extremely sharp too - you can't beat her at cards or scrabble! Wonder if this is because of how great of shape she is in?
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