Researchers have found evidence that the brains of middle-aged, overweight people have the same amount of white matter – the connective tissue that allows the brain to communicate – as a lean person 10 years older. If confirmed, the results suggest that obesity could play a role in how fast a person’s brain ages, causing it to shrink faster than a lean person’s would.
“As our brains age, they naturally shrink in size, but it isn’t clear why people who are overweight have a greater reduction in the amount of white matter,” said one of the team, Lisa Ronan from the University of Cambridge in the UK. “We can only speculate on whether obesity might in some way cause these changes or whether obesity is a consequence of brain changes.”
The team examined the amount of white matter in 527 individuals between the ages of 20 and 87. They divided this data into groups depending on if the person was lean or overweight, based on their BMIs.Comparing the amount of white matter for each group, the researchers found that the brains of the overweight individuals were roughly 10 years older than their lean counterparts. In other words, a 50-year-old overweight person had the same amount of white matter as a 60-year-old lean person. Source: Brains of overweight people look 10 years older than those of lean people