A disturbing new study indicates that obesity could be a lot more harmful than you realize.
In a stunning new finding that could change how doctors think about obesity, researchers have determined that obesity is resulting in huge changes in the brain that could damage memory.
And it leads to a vicious cycle: the poor memory means that people eat more and continue to gain weight, according to a University of Cambridge study.
It’s not the first time obesity has been linked to brain problems, but this latest study indicates that those with higher body mass indexes are seeing direct harm being done to their episodic memory.
Basically, scientists think that obesity is having a negative effect on the hippocampus, a portion of our brain responsible for memory and learning, and it also damages the problem-solving frontal lobe.
The study involved examining 50 participants between the ages of 18 and 35 who had a BMI of between 18 and 51, with 30 and over being obese. They were asked to complete a computerized treasure hunt, then they were tested over the next two days to see if they could remember where they hid items.
Those with a higher BMI performed more poorly than those with a lower BMI, the study found.
“Although only a small study, its results support existing findings that excess bodyweight may be associated with changes to the structure and function of the brain and its ability to perform certain cognitive tasks optimally,” the statement from the university reads. “In particular, obesity has been linked with dysfunction of the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory and learning, and of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain involved in decision making, problem solving and emotions, suggesting that it might also affect memory; however, evidence for memory impairment in obesity is currently limited.”
Added Dr. Lucy Cheke, who spearheaded the study: “Understanding what drives our consumption and how we instinctively regulate our eating behaviour is becoming more and more important given the rise of obesity in society. We know that to some extent hunger and satiety are driven by the balance of hormones in our bodies and brains, but psychological factors also play an important role – we tend to eat more when distracted by television or working, and perhaps to ‘comfort eat’ when we are sad, for example.”