Obesity: The New Brain Shrinking Disease

Obesity can increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. A recent research study investigating 473 subjects between 20-87 years old has reported that it may now lead to increased brain ageing compared to people who are a normal weight.

As we age the brain naturally deteriorates decreasing grey and white matter, which decreases the size of the brain. The research group at Cambridge found that after MRI scanning there is a clear association between the weight of a person and the shrinking of their brain. Overall the researchers found that overweight people had less white matter and decreased brain volume with the greatest changes happening in middle-aged adults. White matter gets its name from the axons that connect the grey matter to each other and it relays the information from different parts of the brain, which can affect how a person learns and functions.

As we age the brain naturally decreases, however it is not known why it decreases more in overweight and obese people. More research and understanding is needed in this area, however with the increased risks associated with weight gain including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and now brain shrinking it is important to remain a healthy weight, especially in middle aged adults.

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