Obesity and Brain Size

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Obesity and Brain Size
Fri, 06-18-2010 - 7:18am

I first thought this one was really odd but it does makes sense since they were talking about how people who are obese have greater rates of Alzheimer's. This is about correlation between excess weight and brain volume. However, there was nothing in the study about causation and the article does try to connect that. It's just a correlation. And, it's just about size, not intelligence.

Excess Abdominal Fat Associated
with Smaller Brains
The brains of obese individuals may be shrinking. According to a recent study completed at Boston University Medical Center the brain volume of overweight and obese individuals is significantly less than that of their normal weight counterparts.
Researchers tested over 700 individuals who were previously enrolled in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Visceral and subcutaneous body fat was assessed via abdominal CT scan, while brain volume was measured using MRI. Total brain volume was then compared to the above body composition factors, in addition to Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference.
Interestingly the data indicated an inverse relationship between body fat and brain size. The most significant link was between visceral body fat and total brain volume. Simply, the higher the fat the smaller the brain.
Scientists are expecting to explore the underlying mechanisms and speculate hormones such as adiponectin, leptin, resistin or ghrelin may be responsible in part for the brain atrophy noted.
Why is this study important? Researchers have previously uncovered links between obesity and a greater risk for early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and/or dementia. Until now, the underlying mechanisms behind such a relationship were only speculative. Although there is limited evidence to indicate cognitive impairment resulting from brain shrinkage, scientists hope to find a link that will allow them to understand the obesity-disease relationship.
Press Release: Study Finds Fat Around the Abdomen Associated with Smaller, Older Brains in middle-aged Adults. Boston Medical Center. May 24, 2010.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2008
Fri, 06-18-2010 - 8:06am

I am reading a book that also confirms this finding.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 06-18-2010 - 9:06am

This makes sense to me. Brains naturally shrink with age, and fitter people tend to be have better resistance to the normal biological processes of aging.

I would love to see

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Fri, 06-18-2010 - 11:37am
That would make a lot of sense to take exercise/fitness into it. I'll bet the connection is between fitness and brain rather than size.