Childhood obesity could cause structural brain differences, UK study finds

November 1, 2019

Obesity has been suggested to have a direct impact on the cognitive processes of both children and adults, including behaviours such as decision-making and self-control and regulation of emotions. The impact further extends to brain structure, as researchers from the University of Cambridge, in UK, have recently discovered distinct differences in brain structure of obese children versus those of normal weight.

The study examined the relationships between brain structure, cognitive functions and body mass index (BMI) of 2700 nine- and eleven- year olds and showed that an increased BMI was linked to a thinning in the pre-frontal region of the cortex, related to the aforementioned processes; data also confirmed a relation between obesity and lowered cognitive function.

However, the data does not show changes over time, according to first author Lisa Ronan, so the researchers are yet unable to determine if being obese changed the structure of these children’s brain or if innate differences in their brains lead them to become obese.

The UK records an obese child for every five children – identifying changes in BMI-brain structure could offer profound insights into maintaining a healthy weight in children and prevent negative health outcomes linked to obesity later on.


Category: Education, Features

Comments are closed.