Can obesity be blamed for cognitive dysfunction?

Can obesity be blamed for cognitive dysfunction?

Do you fret every time you stand on a weighing machine? Do you have trouble losing weight or maintaining an ideal weight? If yes, it may be a case of obesity. Being overweight is not just a concern for good looks, but it raises risks of developing a host of serious ailments – both physical and mental.

Practitioners often warn patients to watch out their growing weight as it causes various physiological diseases. But they hardly warn people about the mental problems and behavioral disorders obesity may cause. Researchers have established a link between obesity and a host of mental problems, including cognitive dysfunction in the old age.

Studies reveal that indulgence in fat and carb-rich diets result in increased body weight, leading to obesity and a host of other related diseases. Immoderate quantities of body fat cause chronic inflammation in the brain, giving rise to cognitive impairment.

Dr. Alexis M. Stranahan, neuroscientist, Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, conducted an experiment involving a group of normal male mice to find the link between obesity and mental health. “Microglia eating synapses is contributing to synapse loss and cognitive impairment in obesity,” quoted him as saying.

The American Heart Association reveals that about two-thirds of the U.S. population is currently overweight. Many people try to find a solution in crash diet as they want to quickly lose weight, but it doesn’t work for long-term weight loss. Weight loss is a gradual process achieved through cutting down on calories and exercising regularly. Professor Terry L. Davidson, director, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, published a research paper in 1993, linking food consumption and body weight regulation to the hippocampus, the brain area for learning and memory.

Should obesity be classified as a disease?

Though the American Medical Association’s decision to classify obesity as a disease has sparked outrage among medical communities, it cannot be denied that excessive body weight is a cause of concern among adults due to various mental health disorders associated with it.

How to know if you are overweight?

Exercising control on weight does not pose much of a problem once an individual knows about his Body Mass Index (BMI) and regulates his diet and activities accordingly. BMI is determined by dividing weight by the square of height. A healthy BMI range is 18.5-24.9 kg/m2. A person is obese if his or her BMI is 30 kg/m2 or more.

Cognitive decline in obese children

In recent years, prevalence of obesity in children has increased significantly and many consider it a major health concern in the developed world. Obese children who regularly consume a diet rich in saturated fat and sugar may face cognitive impairments in the form of difficulties in learning, remembering and concentrating.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17 percent of the American children aged 2-19 are grossly overweight and reducing the high rates of childhood obesity has become a cause of concern.

A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2002 says obese children are likely to suffer from slower cognitive development. Yet another study, done by the Salk Institute in California, revealed a clear relationship between brain development and regular exercise. It conducted the experiment on a group of mice and found that the learning process was more efficient in active mice as compared with the sedentary ones.

Obesity impacts mental health

While studying the association between obesity and common mental health disorders, researchers indicated the bidirectional association between the two. The mediating factors of obesity lead to an alarmingly high rate of mental disorders, including behavioral, biological, psychological and social dysfunctions. While there is no concrete evidence to support this, reviewers suggest that an extremely high weight can result in greater depression among adults, as being overweight can lead to lack of self-esteem.

Making help available

Making certain lifestyle changes and setting goals — precisely by consuming fewer calories and being physically active — one can keep obesity at bay and lead a healthier life. If you or a loved one is struggling with an obesity-related mental problem, you can seek professional help. Get in touch with 24/7 Colorado Mental Health Help at 866-899-5063 now.