Obese body, old brain?

Obesity is often linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer, but now it has another inglorious string to its bow. Recent research from the UK has found that being overweight or obese may significantly age the brain – by up to 10 years.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge found that, compared with their lean counterparts, overweight adults had a degree of reduced white matter volume in the brain which represented around a decade of brain ageing.

The team, led by senior author Professor Paul Fletcher of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge analysed data of 473 cognitively healthy adults aged between 20 and 87.
Using BMI, 246 subjects were classified as lean, 150 as overweight, and 77 as obese. MRI scans were used to measure the study participants' cerebral white and grey matter volume.

Although a lack of ‘direct evidence’ to support the association between obesity and brain ageing was noted, Fletcher commented that ‘The fact that we only saw these differences from middle age onwards raises the possibility that we may be particularly vulnerable at this age. It will also be important to find out whether these changes could be reversible with weight loss, which may well be the case.’

Source: Neurobiology of Aging