Health Sachet No 314:

Obesity has already been linked to diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

A new study now links obesity with onset and progression of brain ageing.

Some highlights:

  • An overweight person of, say, 50 years had brain white matter comparable to a lean person aged 60 years, implying a 10 year difference in brain age.
  • These differences are noticed only from middle age onwards, implying the brain might become vulnerable at that age.
  • Obesity correlates with brain ageing; but whether one causes another, and the actual mechanism, are unknown.
  • It is unclear if losing weight will make those changes reversible.
  • There was no correlation seen between obesity and individual’s IQ.

Brain grey matter facilitates information processing; while brain white matter facilitates information communication. With damaged white matter, information processing in the brain happens in a slow and inefficient manner.

Some symptoms of cognitive dysfunction, as a result of white matter damage, are inattention, executive (planning, organizing, and problem-solving) dysfunction, confusion, memory loss, personality change, depression, somnolence, lassitude, and fatigue.

While obesity is not linked to reduced intelligence (IQ), it is linked to loss of brain white matter, which leads to cognitive dysfunction.