New study finds the more weight you gain, the more your brain shrinks

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Recently, Ladders covered the inspired new finds that premiered at this years’ Alzheimer’s Association,  international conference. Among a good many other things, it was determined that habitually engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity, can significantly reduce one’s risk of developing dementia, even if they were genetically predisposed to develop it.

A little more than one week later, researchers at Northwestern University, successfully identified another neurological consequence of poor dieting, one they neatly coined Cortical Thinning in their new report.  After analyzing data of 1,289 participants from the Northern Manhattan MRI Sub-Study, it was uncovered that as our weight increases our brain volume actually decreases, increasing our risk for Alzheimer’s and a slew of other neurological disorders.


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“These results are exciting because they raise the possibility that by losing weight, people may be able to stave off aging of their brains and potentially the memory and thinking problems that can come along with brain aging,” explained the study’s lead author, Dr. Tatjana Rundek. “However, with the rising number of people globally who are overweight or obese and the difficulty many experiences with losing weight, obviously this is a concern for public health in the future as these people age.”

“Measures of obesity are associated with MRI markers of brain aging”

Dr. Tatjana Rundek is the Scientific Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, that held the postulation linking obesity and brain atrophy for some time. She began her research by recording the body mass index and weight circumference of the 1,289 recruited study pool; of these, 571 participants were deemed overweight. Rundek and her team then used an MRI scan to determine how these elements affected brain volume and the thickness of the cortex six years after the fir leg of the experiment. Consistently, the higher the BMI, the smaller the cortex.

“These associations were especially strong in those who were younger than 65, which adds weight to the theory that having poor health indicators in mid-life may increase the risk for brain aging and problems with memory and thinking skills in later life,” said Rundek.

To be clear, the cortex thins as we age, but Individuals that are overweight to obese, are potentially speeding up the process by around ten years,