Obese seniors have poor mental abilities, new research suggests. According to a study published in the journal Age and Ageing, obesity is associated with reduced mental abilities in seniors less than 70 years of age. This finding, like so many others, underscores the importance of regular exercise for the continued health of the aging brain.
Korean researchers recruited 250 people aged 60 and over whom underwent cognitive testing and body fat measurements which included body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference. The experiment revealed that people under the age of 70 with high body fat performed poorly on cognitive tests. Interestingly, high adiposity didn't affect the cognitive abilities of people over age 70.
Based on the results of the experiment, study author Dae Hyun Yoon concluded that high body fat is linked to decreased intelligence in younger obese seniors.
High Body Fat Is Bad For The Aging Brain
This isn't the first experiment to find a relationship between body fat and poor cognition. Several years ago scientists conducted an experiment which found that high body fat was associated with elevated levels of cortisol and decreased cognition.
Results from the 1995 Women's Antioxidant Cardiac Study (WACS) and the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) cohort study each found a relationship between regular exercise and high cognitive performance.
Other research has found a link between inflammation and decreased cognition in adults.
Dawn Alley, from the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania, recruited 851 between the ages of 70 - 79 for a cognitive functioning study. Her experiment revealed that high inflammation adversely affected cognition.
Inflammation is associated with obesity so it should come as little surprise that obese people might experience poor cognition than people whom are less obese.
However, there is research that contradicts the notion that fat impairs cognition. In fact, when scientists in Denmark recruited 5607 postmenopausal women with mean age 63.8 years, for an experiment which studied the relationship between body fat and cognition, they concluded that women with the lowest central fat mass performed poorly on cognitive tests.
Still, mounting evidence shows that high body fat is unhealthy. Even if people dismiss high body fat's affect on cognition, excess fat is linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and complicates certain autoimmune diseases.
What about you? Do you think that too much body fat has a negative effect on mental abilities? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Yoon, D., Choi, S., Yu, J., Ha, J., Ryu, S., & Park, D. (2012). The relationship between visceral adiposity and cognitive performance in older adults Age and Ageing DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afs018
Bagger, Y., Tankó, L., Alexandersen, P., Qin, G., & Christiansen, C. (2004). The Implications of Body Fat Mass and Fat Distribution for Cognitive Function in Elderly Women** Obesity, 12 (9), 1519-1526 DOI: 10.1038/oby.2004.189
Mujica-Parodi, L., Renelique, R., & Taylor, M. (2008). Higher body fat percentage is associated with increased cortisol reactivity and impaired cognitive resilience in response to acute emotional stress International Journal of Obesity, 33 (1), 157-165 DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2008.218
Alley DE, Crimmins EM, Karlamangla A, Hu P, & Seeman TE (2008). Inflammation and rate of cognitive change in high-functioning older adults. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 63 (1), 50-5 PMID: 18245760
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