" /> Brain differences may be tied to obesity, study says
Select Page

New results from the largest long-term study of brain development and children’s health raise provocative questions about obesity and brain function.

Does excess body weight somehow reduce brain regions that regulate planning and impulse control? Is obesity a result of that brain difference? Or are eating habits, lifestyle, family circumstances and genetics to blame?

Previous studies in children and adults have had conflicting results. The new research doesn’t settle the matter and outside experts cautioned that misinterpreting it could unfairly perpetuate weight stigma.

But an editorial published with the study Monday in JAMA Pediatrics called it an important addition to mounting evidence of a link between weight, brain structure and mental function.

If follow-up research confirms the findings, it could lead to new ways to prevent obesity that target improved brain function.

“We don’t know which direction these relationships go nor do they suggest that people with obesity are not as smart as people at a healthy weight,”said Dr. Eliana Perrin, a Duke University pediatrics professor who co-wrote the editorial.

The federally-funded study involved 3,190 U.S. children ages 9 and 10. They had height and weight measurements, MRI brain scans and computer-based tests of mental function including memory, language, reasoning and impulse control. Nearly 1,000 kids — almost 1 in 3 — were overweight or obese, similar to national statistics. Read more

Read also:Full coverage: Trump impeachment hearings — Day 7

New results from the largest long-term study of brain development and children’s health raise provocative questions about obesity and brain function.

New results from the largest long-term study of brain development and children’s health raise provocative questions about obesity and brain function.

New results from the largest long-term study of brain development and children’s health raise provocative questions about obesity and brain function.

New results from the largest long-term study of brain development and children’s health raise provocative questions about obesity and brain function.