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Weight loss surgery also 'helps the brain'

Weight-loss surgery designed to combat over-eating and obesity can benefit the brain as well as the waistline, research suggests.

There is even some evidence that it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, scientists believe.

Bariatric surgery is generally used as a last resort to help people who are dangerously overweight. It involves either reducing the size of the stomach or shortening the distance food travels through the digestive tract.

The procedures are known to be highly effective in cases of serious obesity. But they also appear to have a positive influence on brain activity, according to the new findings.

Function

A study of the impact of bariatric surgery on 17 obese women found it produced distinct improvements in mental functions linked to planning, strategy and organisation.

Professor Cintia Cercato, from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, said: "When we studied obese women prior to bariatric surgery, we found some areas of their brains metabolised (processed to produce energy) sugars at a higher rate than normal weight women.

"In particular, obesity led to altered activity in a part of the brain linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease - the posterior cingulate gyrus. Since bariatric surgery reversed this activity, we suspect the procedure may contribute to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's."

hnews@herald.ie


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