Does Obesity Put Your Brain at Risk?

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Doctor measuring the waist of an overweight patient
Jelena Stanojkovic /

Obesity has been associated with many health woes. But can it raise your risk of dementia?

A new study out of Australia suggests a link between a person’s metabolism and measures of the brain related to dementia.

In the study of data on more than 26,000 people, researchers at the University of South Australia’s Australian Centre for Precision Health looked at six diverse metabolic profiles and then measured their association with MRI brain scan measures of:

  • Brain volume
  • Brain lesions
  • Iron accumulation

The goal was to try to identify early risk factors that have been associated with dementia. According to a summary of the study findings:

“People with metabolic profiles linked to obesity were more likely to have adverse MRI profiles showing lower hippocampal and grey matter volumes, greater burden of brain lesions, and higher accumulation of iron.”

In particular, one metabolic profile characterized by a high body mass index, or BMI, as well as high blood levels of triglycerides and liver enzymes had the worst MRI results compared with the healthy profile (which was characterized by a low BMI and a high HDL cholesterol, aka “good” cholesterol).

The researchers say the study findings indicate a connection between an individual’s metabolic profile and his or her brain health.

The study’s senior investigator, Elina Hyppönen, says the findings are a reminder that “the human body is complex” and that more research is necessary to uncover both why and how the associations take place.

For more news related to dementia, check out:

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