Weight is bad for the brain

A plus-size woman looks at herself in the mirror. Evidence suggests that being obese, or even just overweight, can alter the brain’s physical structure, which in turn can trigger memory problems and an increased risk of dementia. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Luckily, losing weight, even through surgery, might improve your memory and cognitive functioning.  Researchers at Kent State University, Ohio tested the memories of 150 overweight people before they underwent gastric bypass surgery. Twelve  weeks after surgery, those who’d had the operation showed improvements in memory.

Piling on the pounds isn’t good for our hearts, joints and arteries, but it now appears that it can also damage our brains. Evidence suggests that being obese, or even just overweight, can alter the brain’s physical structure, which in turn can trigger memory problems and an increased risk of dementia. This excess weight can also prematurely age the grey matter or the ‘thinking part’ of the brain – the brain cells which are responsible for muscle control, seeing, hearing, memory, emotions and speech. On average, it adds a whopping 16 years!

Interestingly, being overweight can change the way we think too, affecting our judgment and making us crave even more high-calorie sustenance. The result? We go looking for a food ‘fix’ much the same way a drug addict seeks out drugs. With an increasing number of overweight people in Kenya, the future doesn’t look bright. 

In April 2011, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that the risk of dementia in later life is 71 per cent higher for overweight people, and around four times greater for those who were obese in middle age.

Researchers believe a shrunken brain is less resilient to damage from the abnormal protein clumps in the brain called plaques that kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s.

Luckily, losing weight, even through surgery, might improve your memory and cognitive functioning.  Researchers at Kent State University, Ohio tested the memories of 150 overweight people before they underwent gastric bypass surgery. Twelve  weeks after surgery, those who’d had the operation showed improvements in memory, moving from a score of mildly-impaired into the normal range, while those who didn’t have surgery didn’t exhibit the same improvements.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.