Wednesday 21 March 2018

Being overweight makes brain 'ten years older' than if you're slim

Being overweight makes the brain age by ten years, a new study has found.
Being overweight makes the brain age by ten years, a new study has found.
Amy Mulvaney

Amy Mulvaney

Overweight people's brains were seen to age ten years.

Being overweight in middle-age makes the brain age by ten years, research by the University of Cambridge has found.

The study of 473 people found that an overweight person had a volume of white matter in their brain comparable to that of a lean person ten years their senior.

White matter connects different areas of the brain and allows information to be communicated between sections.

However, the researchers only observed the decrease in white matter in overweight people who were middle-aged onwards, suggesting that the brain may be particularly vulnerable at that time.

“As our brains age, they naturally shrink in size, but it isn’t clear why people who are overweight have a greater reduction in the amount of white matter,” said author Dr Lisa Ronan from the Department of Psychiatry at the university.

“We can only speculate on whether obesity might in some way cause these changes or whether obesity is a consequence of brain changes.”

Despite these findings, the study found no connection between being overweight and a decrease in cognitive skills, such as measured by an IQ test.

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