Obesity is a well-known cause of many more severe conditions, including increased risks of cardiovascular and chronic diseases. But, according to a new meta-analysis study, obesity might also cause brain damage, by leading to a loss of grey matter.
“All the studies in this direction noted a decrease in the amounts of grey matter related to the more frequent inflammations in the obese person’s brain,” says Alain Dagher, a researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute, and one of the authors of the study.
For years, the obesity researchers have seen subtle changes in the brain structure in people with this condition. But not all studies explicitly stated that it was obesity that was damaging the brain.
The scientists selected 21 studies, totaling 5,882 participants aged between 18 and 92, who had analyzed all parts of the brains of these individuals.
“What emerges is that the decrease in the volume of grey matter in areas such as the middle prefrontal cortex, the bilateral cerebellum, and the left temporal lobe is constantly associated with the variables related to obesity,” explains Alain Dagher.
Scientists established a link between obesity and brain damage
In another recent study, published more recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the same Canadian team of researchers demonstrated, once again, the validity of their theory that there is a link between obesity and brain damage.
This time, the researchers reached to these results after analyzing the siblings of 895 participants, including nearly 300 twins using the data gathered by the Human Connectome Project, an international project that is literally “mapping” human brain’s neurons.
“Differences would be more heritable than we thought. However, this genetic trait is only part of the puzzle and the interactions with the environment, the individual’s nutritional habits, and other factors that affect weight management cannot be ruled out,” Dagher adds.
The researchers concluded by stating that there is indeed a connection between obesity and brain damage.