Being obese means having a bigger body, of course. But research indicates it also means having a smaller brain – and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“The more we understand about (body fat), the clearer it becomes that belly fat is its own disease-generating organism,” said Dr. Lenore Launer in a statement by the National Institutes of Health.
Several studies in recent years have addressed the link between obesity and brain health.
“Research shows obesity impacts brain health from childhood well into adulthood, affecting everything from executive function skills – the complex ability to initiate, plan and carry out tasks – to substantially raising dementia risk,” says the American Heart Association.
Time magazine shared another study that suggests eliminating excess fat can improve brain function — and that exercise can reverse brain damage that was possibly caused by fat. Obese adults are 35 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. One expert says obese people’s brains are 8 percent smaller.
It’s not clear why. But other health conditions that affect inactive older people – like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes – are also linked to obesity.
Eating right and staying at a healthy weight are good for brain health, increasing blood circulation throughout the body, including the brain.
The connection between body and brain health continues to emerge. It’s just one more reason to take better care of yourself through a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise.
Your body and your brain depend on it.
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.