Being overweight has well-documented consequences on our health, however, a more obscure side-effect of this state is brain damage. To make it worse, the particular type of brain damage, caused by excess weight, actually makes it harder to get back in shape and causes a vicious circle many people can't reverse.
More Weight, Less Brain
A six-year study, published in the journal of Neurology, found a correlation between obesity and the thinning of the cerebral cortex - the area, responsible for thinking, talking, and seeing. The higher the body mass index (BMI) and the larger the waist of the 1,300 participants were, the thinner their brain cortex was.
And we're not talking about a barely noticeable correlation that was valid only for certain people in the study. On the contrary, it applied to participants across the board and resembled an actual mathematical equation with its consistency - every single unit increase in BMI was reflected in a substantial decrease of the brain cortex's thickness. It's almost as if people's extra fat came directly from their brain. That eerie correlation was most pronounced in obese people under the age of 65, whose brains were more than 10 years older than their natural age.
The average age of the participants was 64.
These findings don't represent some isolated case, either. Previous studies have discovered that excess weight leads to inflammation of the hypothalamus - precisely that part of the brain that is practically the control center of body weight. Inflammation in the brain causes serious neurodegeneration. On top of that, the process begins practically immediately - it's almost as if the first couple of extra pounds go straight to attacking the hypothalamus.
This is why it's harder to shed extra weight than to maintain a healthy one in the first place - the excess weight triggers a chain reaction that can easily snowball and spin out of control.
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