Obese People's Brains Age Faster

Study links obesity to cognitive decline

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 21, 2012 5:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – Here's another reason for obese middle-aged people to lose weight: You might just lose your marbles, a new study warns. Researchers studied thousands of British civil servants over a decade and found a strong link between obesity and a faster rate of mental decline, the BBC reports. Participants took memory and other cognitive tests three times over the 10 years of the study. "Everyone experiences a decline in mental abilities with aging, but it was as if the obese group were seven years older," the lead researcher says.

The decline occurred even in obese people without high blood pressure or other risk factors, countering the belief that one "could be obese and metabolically healthy and have no health risk," the lead researcher says. Experts aren't sure what accounts for the link between obesity and decline but they believe high blood-sugar levels affect the brain, and fat tissue could lead to hormonal imbalances that could also harm the brain, the Wall Street Journal notes. Lifestyle may also play a role, with obese people being less likely to take part in exercise, which is believed to slow down cognitive decline.

Earlier research found that obesity in mid-life leads to a higher risk of dementia.
Earlier research found that obesity in mid-life leads to a higher risk of dementia.   (Shutterstock)
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