Recent research from the UK has revealed that individuals with higher body fat levels exhibit differences in brain structure, particularly a lower volume of gray matter, which houses most of the brain’s nerve cells.
Previous studies have already linked obesity to an increased risk of dementia in later life, and evidence suggests that shrinkage of gray matter is associated with a higher risk of dementia as well. Therefore, the findings of this study may help establish a connection between obesity and brain health.
Dr. Ilona Dekkers, the lead researcher from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, explained that recent studies indicate that obesity considerably impacts the hormonal and immune systems, leading to inflammatory reactions that can also affect brain tissue.
Dr. Harold Bays, an endocrinologist from the United States who was not involved in the study, also suggested that “dysfunctional fat tissue” might directly impact the brain. Fat tissue is not merely inert but “active” tissue. When fat cells become overly large and accumulate around organs like the heart and intestines, they become dysfunctional and release hormones and inflammatory substances. This process contributes to various conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and fatty liver disease.
The study highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight to support overall well-being, including brain health.