Weight Gain And Memory Loss

Published:December 21st, 2010

Memory loss occurs when our brain cannot retrieve stored information due to brain cells that are dying. While brain cells can die naturally as we age, other factors may determine their premature death. Besides trauma, stress or not having enough oxygen, brain cells might die because we gain weight. Many studies have revealed the connection between weight gain and memory loss. One such study showed that every point you gain in the Body Mass Index results in a decrease by 1 point of your memory.

Weight gain causes blood cholesterol to rise, which in time builds up on the walls of the arteries. When arteries are narrow, there is poor blood circulation to your organs, including your brain. When our brain does not have enough oxygen for the brain cells or to create new brain cells, our memory suffers.

Fat cells in the body create hormones called cytokines. They are responsible for a reduction in cognitive skills as well. Besides the amount of excess weight, the location where the fat is stored is also contributing to memory loss.
Pear-shaped women are more affected by memory loss than those who are apple-shaped. This is due to the different cytokines produced by different kinds of fats, fat around the thighs being different from fat in the abdomen area. Different fats can release different cytokines and have different effects on insulin resistance and blood pressure.

The new study from Northwestern Medicine was part of the Women’s Health Initiative hormone trials and was the first one in the United States to research the connection between obesity and reduced memory and body shape. 8,475 women participated in the study.


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