Excess weight can cause brain changes similar to Alzheimer’s

Brain scans show patterns of gray matter reduction in regions involved in learning, memory and decision-making. Experts hope, however, that weight loss can reverse the damage.

Being overweight in middle age has been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, among other diseases like cancer and diabetes, but a new study shows that brain changes in obese people reflect the same changes as some of the most obese people. with dementia suffer.

Scientists at McGill University in Montreal analyzed brain scans of more than 1,300 people in what is the first investigation that directly compares the patterns of gray matter reduction in obese people and in Alzheimer’s patients.

Medical imaging tests revealed a similar cerebral narrowing – decrease in the number of brain cells – in regions involved in learning, memory and decision-making in both groups, according to the report published this Tuesday in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“We have shown that there is a similarity between the brains of obese people and those with Alzheimer’s,” commented the study’s first author, Filip Morys, a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at McGill University. “It all comes down to the thickness of the cerebral cortex,” he added.

Obesity associated with damage to the body

Previous studies have already shown that obesity can cause changes in the body associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, including damage to blood vessels in the brain and accumulation of abnormal proteins that are harmful to the normal functioning of the body.

On the other hand, conditions common in obesity – such as hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia – have been linked by scientific research to harmful brain changes.

McGill University researchers suspect, however, that obese people, and possibly those who are overweight – a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 25.9 – may delay cognitive decline if they manage to achieve a healthy weight. .

See also: 25 unimaginable weight loss tricks