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article imageBeing overweight accelerates brain ageing

By Tim Sandle     Aug 10, 2016 in Health
A new warning has been issued in relation to obesity. Research suggests that being overweight leads to accelerated brain ageing and this brings with it a range of age-related neurodegenerative concerns.
The new University of Cambridge (U.K.) research has found that the brain of someone diagnosed with obesity, over a period of time, appears 10 years older compared with a person of the same age but who is of average weight. This is a troubling sign for as a person ages the brain, as with other organs, is affected. Through ageing the brain degenerates as white and grey matter are lost, and the brain shrinks in size.
The finding has come from a study that assessed the weight and brain structure of 473 people who were aged between 20 and 87 years. The effect of a brain of an obese person appearing older than that of a lean person was apparent throughout the age band. A lean person was defined as someone who had a body mass index (the expression of the height-weight ratio) of 18.5 – 25; whereas someone who was classified as obese had a body mass index of over 30 (the in-between range, between lean and obese, was referred to as ‘overweight.’)
The loss of brain matter was assessed using magnetic resonance imaging, which allowed grey and white matter volumes to be measured. In particular, people classes as obese had less white matter than lean people. This was to the extent that with a lean person and an obese person of the same age, the brain of the obese person resembled that of a lean person who was ten years older.
The effect was not as clear-cut with younger people, although it was very apparent at middle-age. This infers that for younger people who are overweight then the trajectory can be changed provided lifestyle changes are implemented.
Discussing the observed affects with Laboratory Roots, the lead researcher, Professor Paul Fletcher, who is based at the Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, said: “We're living in an aging population, with increasing levels of obesity, so it's essential that we establish how these two factors might interact, since the consequences for health are potentially serious.”
The new findings add to the collective health evidence in relation to obesity. The condition is known to trigger cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and cancer.
The research is published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, in a paper titled “Obesity associated with increased brain-age from mid-life.”
More about brain ageing, Obesity, Weight, Overweight
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