Fat Body = Not Fat Head?

A new study finds obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals, researchers said today.

Those classified as overweight have 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains appear to have aged prematurely by 8 years

I don’t know what to think about this yet. It would be nice to know more about the proximate mechanisms. I’m guessing this is a cardio-vascular thing.


hat tip: Natalie.

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0 thoughts on “Fat Body = Not Fat Head?

  1. Scary eh?

    There has been some research recently that when cells are mildly stressed (ie by starving a day a week) they stay healthier and reproduce better. Could this in any way be a sort of converse?

  2. Did they control for height? Remember that obesity/overweight is determined by BMI, which is linearly proportional to weight and quadratically inversely proportional to height. Therefore, a small difference in height between two people of the same weight will result in a much bigger difference in BMI than a small difference in weight between two people of the same height. We tend to ignore the influence of height on BMI because it’s not a factor that an adult can control, but it’s still present.

    So if there’s a positive correlation between height and brain mass (and I vaguely recall that there is, probably influenced by nutrition in childhood), then you could see a negative correlation between BMI and brain mass.

  3. Could it be related to obstructive sleep apnoea? Sleep apnoea is increased in the obese and overweight, and perhaps the periodic anoxia at night might affect brain cell survival.

  4. This study is interesting, and I wish I still had access to journals to read the actual study. However, the study involved 94 people in their 70s, so I’m careful about jumping to conclusions for the rest of the population. The direction of causation is not clear. Some of the regions affected involve memory, planning, and sensory processing, which could possibly make those people more prone to overeating. I’d like to see the study repeated in a larger group of people from all age groups, and I’d also like to see a longitudinal study to see what affect gaining or losing weight has on brain size.

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