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Obesity accelerates brain aging by ten years
Apparently there is a link between body weight and brain health. As part of a study, an American research team from Miami showed that overweight people with an increased waist size and high body mass index (BMI) more often have thinning in the brain. Older people with overweight showed an accelerated brain aging by ten years.
Those who are overweight in their 60s have an increased risk of accelerating brain aging. As a result of being overweight, the brain is said to age a decade faster than the brain of normal-weight people. This is indicated by the results of a current study carried out by researchers from the Miller School of Medicine. The study was recently presented in the medical journal "Neurology".
Does obesity thin out the brain?
"People with larger waist and higher BMI were more likely to have a thinning in the area of the cerebral cortex," explains Professor Dr. Tatjana Rundek, the author of the study. This suggests that obesity is associated with a reduced number of gray matter. According to the researchers, the result also underscores other studies that found that poor mid-life health indicators increase the risk of memory and thinking skills problems later in life.
Course of the study
1,289 people with an average age of 64 participated in the study. At the beginning of the study, the BMI and waist size of the participants were measured. Around six years later, the research team performed MRI brain scans on the test subjects to determine the thickness of the cortex area of the brain and the brain volume. A total of 346 participants had a BMI of less than 25, which is considered normal weight. 571 people were considered overweight with a BMI between 25 and 30. In 372 people, the BMI was over 30, which made these people obese.
Being overweight as a risk factor for Alzheimer's?
Even if the researchers included other factors such as high blood pressure, alcohol consumption and smoking, a higher BMI was clearly associated with a thinner cortex. Overweight people, on average, had a cerebral cortex that was 0.098 millimeters thinner than normal-weight people and obese participants even had a cortex that was 0.207 millimeters thinner. As the research team reports, a thinner cerebral cortex is also a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
A public health concern
"In adults with normal aging, the thinning rate of the cerebral cortex is between 0.01 and 0.10 millimeters per decade," explains Rundek. This suggests that obesity and obesity can accelerate brain aging by at least a decade. Weight loss could therefore be an effective preventive measure to stay mentally fit longer in old age. "With the increasing number of people who are overweight or obese worldwide and the difficulty that many have in losing weight, this is a public health concern," summarizes the professor. (vb)
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Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Miller School of Medicine: Study Shows Extra Weight in 60s May Be Linked to Brain Thinning Years Later (accessed: July 25, 2019), med.miami.edu
- Rundek, Tatjana / Caunca, Michelle R. / Gardener, Hannah / u .: Measures of obesity are associated with MRI markers of brain aging, Neurology, 2019, n.neurology.org