Long-term obesity linked to loss of brain tissue in women

November 22, 2004

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Women who are obese throughout life are more likely to lose brain tissue, according to a study published in the November 23 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Loss of brain tissue has been linked to cognitive decline.

Researchers in Sweden studied the relationship between body mass index and brain atrophy (loss of brain tissue) in 290 women. The women were born between 1908 and 1922 and had four follow-up examinations between 1968 and 1992. During the final exam, they had a computed tomography (CT) scan to measure for any loss of brain tissue. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat that shows weight adjusted for height. Overweight is a BMI of 25 to 30 kg/m2. Obesity is a BMI of 30 kg/m2 and above.

An overweight or obese BMI was linked to a loss of tissue specifically in the temporal lobe. Nearly 50 percent (144) of the women had temporal atrophy. At the time of CT scan, their body mass index was an average of 27 kg/m2, which was 1.1 to 1.5 kg/m2 higher than the women without brain atrophy. Overall the women's BMI increased over the 24-year period, but the increase was greater for those who lost tissue in the temporal lobe. The risk of atrophy increased 13 to 16 percent per 1.0 kg/m2 increase in BMI.

"This study indicates that a high BMI is a risk factor for dementia in women. Other studies have reported similar findings," said Deborah Gustafson, PhD, of Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Göteborg, Sweden and also the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "Obesity is another factor that should be actively intervened upon to reduce diseases of advanced aging."

The researchers didn't pinpoint a reason why obesity leads to brain atrophy. They said there are several possible mechanisms.

"Obesity is related to ischemia, hypertension, and cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. These conditions contribute to an unhealthy vascular system, and therefore, to a higher dementia risk," said Gustafson. "Obesity may also increase the secretion of cortisol, which could lead to atrophy."

The temporal lobe appears to be highly susceptible to the effects of ischemia and other vascular diseases in the brain, and is evidence of cerebral degeneration and neuronal death, Gustafson said.
-end-
A related Patient Page in the November 23 Neurology provides background on dementia and obesity. The Patient Page will be available for downloading from www.neurology.org on November 23, or can be obtained in advance from AAN media relations staff.

The study was supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, the Alzheimer's Association Stephanie B. Overstreet Scholars, the Alzheimer's Association Zenith Award, Stiftelsen Soderstrom-Konigska Sjukhemmet, Stiftelsen for Gamla Tjanarinnor, Handlanden Hjalmar Svenssons Forskningsfond, Stiftelsen Professor Bror Gadelius' Minnesfond, the Swedish Society of Medicine, the Göteborg Medical Society, Alzheimerfonden, Alma och Anna Yhlen's Foundation, the Göteborg Medical Services and Social Services Administrations, Fredrik and Rosa von Malmborgs Foundation for Brain Research, the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, and the American Scandinavian Foundation.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 18,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as epilepsy, dystonia, migraine, Huntington's disease, and dementia.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit its Website at www.aan.com.

American Academy of Neurology

Related Obesity Articles from Brightsurf:

11 years of data add to the evidence for using testosterone therapy to treat obesity, including as an alternative to obesity surgery
New research covering 11 years of data presented at this year's European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) show that, in obese men suffering from hypogonadism (low testosterone), treatment with testosterone injections lowers their weight and improves a wide range of other metabolic parameters.

Overlap between immunology of COVID-19 and obesity could explain the increased risk of death in people living with obesity, and also older patients
Data presented in a special COVID-19 session at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) suggests that there are overlaps between the immunological disturbances found in both COVID-19 disease and patients with obesity, which could explain the increased disease severity and mortality risk faced by obese patients, and also elderly patients, who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

New obesity guideline: Address root causes as foundation of obesity management
besity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not weight loss alone, and include a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of obesity, according to a new clinical practice guideline published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191707.

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.

Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.

Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?

Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.

Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.

Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.

Read More: Obesity News and Obesity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.