The surprising effect weight gain has on our brain

According to a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, exessive weight gain might be a significant contributor to the development of cognitive decline.

Previously conducted research has suggested as much in the past, but the latest report is the first to hone in on the relevant means.

“While obesity has been shown to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the potential mechanisms underlying this risk may be clarified with a better understanding of underlying physiology in obese persons,” the researchers wrote of their objective in the report. “Across adulthood, higher BMI correlated with decreased perfusion on both resting and concentration brain SPECT scans. These are seen in virtually all brain regions, including those influenced by AD pathology such as the hippocampus.”

The authors derived their research from a psychiatric cohort composed of 17,721 adults between the ages of 18 and 94.

These subjects underwent a total of 35,442 brain scans over the course of the study period.

Once the scanned images were collected the respondents were tasked with completing The Connors Continuous Performance Test II.

For those unfamiliar, CPT tests refer to a wide range of neuropsychological assessments that measure sustained and selective attention.

Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) allows medical experts to monitor blood flow to important regions of the brain.

Lastly, analysis of variance or ANOVA for short was additionally employed to distinguish results between the cohorts who participated in the study.

Consistently, greater BMI was linked with biomarkers instructive of cognitive decline. None of these indicate adverse outcomes on their own, but together they can aid diagnosis tremendously.

There isn’t a cure for dementia and the majority of suffers seek medical intervention after the condition is pretty advanced.

Interpreting the early indicators appears to be the most important component of treatment.

“With over 35,000 functional neuroimaging scans across more than 17,000 individuals, this study is one of the larger studies linking obesity with brain dysfunction, as evidenced here by quantifiable regional perfusion,” the authors wrote of the import of their finds.  “The striking patterns of progressively reduced perfusion found in virtually all regions across categories of underweight, normal weight, overweight, obesity, and morbid obesity was noted on both baseline (resting state) and concentration scans. In particular, brain areas noted to be vulnerable to AD: the temporal and parietal lobes, hippocampus, posterior cingulate gyrus, and precuneus were found to have reduced perfusion along the spectrum of weight classification from normal weight to overweight, obese, and morbidly obese .”

The results indicate that excessive weight gain isn’t a predictor of Alhemeirs but a potential contributor.

Limited blood flow yields a myriad of adverse health outcomes overtime but cognitive decline might be one of the more underreported ones.

To this effect, the dietary elements studied to prevent dementia are often lost in the discussion.

Be sure to check out Ladder’s report on the diets that share the most robust relationships with brain health and longevity.

“One of the most important lessons we have learned through 30 years of performing functional brain imaging studies is that brains can be improved when you put them in a healing environment by adopting brain-healthy habits, such as a healthy calorie-smart diet and regular exercise,” says lead author Dr. George Amen in a media release.