Obesity Harms Brain Skills

Being overweight is not healthy, no matter what your age. However, recent research suggests that lack of exercise among senior citizens with too much extra weight may well be risking more than their physical health. They may be risking their cognitive functions, too.

The study, conducted at Seoul National University Hospital Healthcare System in Korea, tested volunteers age 60 and older to determine whether brain skills may be affected by having excess body fat.1 The researchers calculated the body mass index (BMI) for the 250 participants as well as took the measurements of their waist circumferences and imaging of the abdominal area to detect fat stores. Then, the volunteers were given tests to assess cognitive performance.

The subjects between the ages of 60 and 70 with both high BMIs (25 and over is considered overweight) and a large amount of fat around the midsection scored lower on the brain skills testing. Since there has been no follow-up to this research, we do not know whether any of the participants is currently or can expect to develop dementia in the future, but it would seem likely based on the results. The bottom line, though, is that cognitive decline appears to start earlier for those carrying too many extra pounds, especially in the abdominal area. >

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