Does Being Overweight Affect Your Brain?


Do we need yet another reason to maintain a healthy body weight? It is well known that being overweight or obese raises your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, but there are many studies linking obesity with memory loss. And since 69% of Americans age 20 and older are overweight or obese, we should all pay attention!

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests obesity works on different metabolic pathways that can affect the way we process information. One study involved adults aged 18-35 divided into 3 groups based on their BMI (Body Mass Index). BMI of 18-25 (healthy), BMI of 26-30 (overweight), and BMI over 30 (obese). All participants took a memory test and the results showed that performance worsened as BMI increased. Researchers say their findings indicate that a higher BMI leads to structural and functional changes in the brain that reduce episodic memory – the ability to recall past events.

Another study suggests that consuming between 2100 and 6000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss. This study involved over 1200 people between the ages of 70 and 89 who were free from dementia. Paul Thompson, a professor of neurology at UCLA compared the brains of people who were obese, overweight and of normal weight to see if there were differences in brain structure. He found that obese people had 8 percent less brain tissue that normal people. That means a loss of 8 billion neurons!

The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight are becoming more obvious every day. If you need help getting to a healthy BMI, please call The Woman’s Clinic in Jackson, Mississippi. Our Healthy Me program can get you on the right track!