The alarming rates of obesity have caused us to rethink the way we eat, the way we move, and our lifestyles altogether. Science continues to prove the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, and now, researchers are giving us just one more reason.

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The team reviewed the amount of white matter in 527 individuals between the ages of 20 and 87, dividing this data into groups depending on if the person was lean or overweight, based on their BMIs. What they found was that the brains of middle-aged, overweight people have the same amount of white matter as a lean person 10 years older. Their results, if confirmed, may prove how obesity plays a role in how fast a person’s brain ages.

“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,” explained one of the team members, 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 researchers found that, when they compared the amount of white matter for each group, the brains of the overweight people were about 10 years older than their counterparts, which means that, for instance, a 50-year-old overweight person may have the same amount of white matter as a 60-year-old lean person. Nevertheless, the researchers didn’t find any signs of cognitive decline in the overweight group.

Furthermore, the researchers found that the drop in white matter was only apparent in middle-aged individuals, not younger, though they aren’t sure exactly why.

“We’re living in an ageing population, with increasing levels of obesity, so it’s essential that we establish how these two factors might interact, since the consequences for health are potentially serious,” team member Paul Fletcher said.

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“The fact that we only saw these differences from middle-age onwards raises the possibility that we may be particularly vulnerable at this age. It will also be important to find out whether these changes could be reversible with weight loss, which may well be the case.”
Additional studies still need to be completed in order to back up these results that show how obesity may be linked to the reduction of white matter in middle-aged brains. Issues of how BMI may skew these findings is also of concern.

However, this isn’t the only study that shows how lifestyle choices can harm brain health after a certain age. In fact, just last month, researchers discovered that a 40-hour work week is linked to cognitive decline in people over 40-years-old. However, the team of international researchers also concluded that working less than 25 hours still had a negative mental impact.

“In all three cases it was found around 25 to 30 hours of work per week will maximise your cognitive skill,” one of the researchers, Colin McKenzie from Keio University in Japan, explained.

“For cognitive functioning, working far too much is worse than not working at all,” he said. “In the beginning, work stimulates the brain cells. The stress associated with work physically and psychologically kicks in at some point and that affects the gains you get from working.”

As scanning technology continues to get more advanced, researchers are hopeful that they may, one day, be able to fully understand just how lifestyle impacts the health of our brains on a cognitive and physical level.

Loosing weight isn’t about appearance, it’s about being healthy. Fat is a pre-curser to various diseases, and since we are a website that encourages a healthy lifestyle, for health and consciousness reasons, we thought it would be worthy to share this info. Perhaps it can give you, or someone you know who you are concerned about a little more motivation to turn their health around.

Another issue that’s not commonly discussed are the reasons that lead us up to abusing our bodies. Constantly consuming junk food, or sitting around all day are signs of the way we are feeling. Many of us do these things to cope with another problem we haven’t really dealt with, and most likely tuck somewhere in the back of our minds. Something to think about…

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