Excess body fat reduces cognitive function

February 11, 2022
Excess body fat reduces cognitive function

Too much body fat has been found to be a strong risk factor for reduced cognitive function, such as understanding and processing speed, regardless of cardiovascular risk factors, vascular brain injury, or any other factors.

According to a recent study led by Dr. Sonia Anand, a professor of medicine of McMaster University’s (McMaster) School of Medicine and a vascular medicine specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), the effect of increased body fat remained “even after adjusting for increasing cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as vascular brain injury, which should prompt researchers to investigate which other pathways may link excess fat to reduced cognitive function.”

[A vascular brain injury involves areas in the brain affected by reduced blood flow and hence, function.]

The study saw over 9,100 participants measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis to assess their total body fat. About 6,733 participants also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure abdominal fat packed around the organs known as visceral fat, and to determine the extent of vascular brain injury, if any.

“Our results suggest that strategies to prevent or reduce having too much body fat may preserve cognitive function,” said Dr. Anand.

“Preserving cognitive function is one of the best ways to prevent dementia in old age,” said neurologist and associate professor Eric Smith, University of Calgary, Canada. “This study suggests that one of the ways that good nutrition and physical activity prevent dementia may be by maintaining healthy weight and body fat percentage.”


Category: Education, Features

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