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Overweight correlates with faster aging of the brain: Study

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, August 7, 2016  /  11:01 am
Overweight correlates with faster aging of the brain: Study

Overweight people lose a year of life on average, according to Richard Peto of Oxford University. (Shutterstock/-)

Researchers have found that levels of tissue connecting different parts of the brain are significantly lower in obese and overweight middle-aged people than in their lean counterparts.

As reported by AFP with reference to the journal Neurobiology of Ageing on Thursday, overweight people at the age of around 40 had brains that seemed to be around 50 years old, and as they aged further, the decade-gap appeared to remain.

"As our brains age, they naturally shrink in size,” said Lisa Ronan, a scientist in the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge and the main author of the study. She also noted that, "overweight or obese [people] have a greater reduction in the amount of white matter," which is what the connective tissue is referred to as.

(Read also: For the first time, more than 4 in 10 US women are obese)

"We don't yet know the implications of these changes in brain structure," added co-author Sadaf Farooqi, a professor at the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Science at Cambridge.

From data obtained from 500 volunteers aged 20 to 87, Ronan and her team found that the brain is more susceptible from middle age onwards, as the white matter’s density only starts changing from that age on. Additionally, the researchers remarked that there was neither a change in cognitive ability nor IQ in relation to being overweight or obese.

“Clearly,” said Ronan, "this must be a starting point for us to explore in more depth the effects of weight, diet and exercise on the brain and memory." (jam/kes)