Does having a wider waistline shrink your brain?
The idea may sound atrocious but recent research has found that people with wider waistlines tend to display shrinking of brain cells. Here’s a look at the findings and what they spell for those who are obese.
The link between obesity and the brain
A study was undertaken in UK on over 9,600 adults to study any link between obesity and the brain. Obesity is calculated using the BMI formula and this is based on a person's weight and height. When computed, a BMI score between 18.5 and 24.9 is in the healthy range. A BMI score ranking above 30 is considered obese. In the same way, the waist-to-hip ratio is calculated and when someone has a high score, above 0.90 for men and above 0.85 for women, this points to central obesity, or a bigger belly than hips.
The result of the study was that obese people usually had a lower volume of gray matter in the brain compared to their normal-weight counterparts. Gray matter is where the major portion of the brain's nerve cells are concentrated, and white matter comprises the fibers which link the different parts of the brain.
When viewed via MRI brain scans, the overall, obese men and women generally showed lower gray matter volume when compared to normal-weight participants. On closer examination, it was found that the greatest amount of gray matter reductions showed up in those with a lot of excess weight around the middle. This reduction showed up in several brain regions and this included those regulating behavior and movement.
Why would obesity ever relate to brain size?
Obesity comes with certain related health conditions such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. These ailments can damage the heart and blood vessels, and this could impair blood flow to the brain.