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by Mike Zazaian October 16, 2006 - 12:54pm, 4 Comments

Obesity Could Lower Intelligence, Study Says

A study conducted by French researchers suggests that a higher body mass index could lead to lower cognitive function.

The study, which was published in this month’s Neurology journal, tested 2,200 men and women between the ages of 32 and 62. Subjects in the test were given a basic vocabulary test, then asked to re-take the test after five years had elapsed. According to an article from UK publication Telegraph:

The results showed that people with a Body Mass Index – a measure of body fat – of 20 or less could recall 56 per cent of words in a vocabulary test, while those who were obese, with a BMI of 30 or higher, could remember only 44 per cent. The fatter subjects also showed a higher rate of cognitive decline when they were retested five years later: their recall dropped to 37.5 per cent, whereas those with a healthy weight retained their level of recall.

The research used the official British measure of obesity, which considers individuals with a BMI between 10 and 25 to be of normal weight, while anyone over that mark is considered obese. Researchers attributed the results to the fact that hormones secreted by fats could have a potentially damaging effect on brain cells, ultimately lowering cognitive function. Said Dr. Maxime Cournot, who headed the study:

Another explanation could be that since obesity is a widely known cardiovascular risk factor, due to the thickening and hardening of the blood vessels, that the same happens with the arteries in the brain

Another suggestion is that a build-up of fat cells in arteries could lower blood-flow to the brain. Dr David Haslam, Clinical Director of the National Obesity Forum, commented on the findings. It goes to show obesity affects every single organ in the human body.

[via The Telegraph]