News related to obesity has recently been splattered all over the news, even more than usual in my opinion.  The latest headline is that obese or overweight patients had significantly less brain matter than those whose weights were considered normal.  The research article, "Brain Structure and Obesity," resulted from a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and was published online this month in the scientific journal Human Brain Mapping.  The senior author on the publication was quoted in the U. S. News & World Report as saying, "The brains of obese people looked 16 years older than their healthy counterparts while [those of] overweight people looked 8 years older."

An important thing to note about the research article is that their test subjects were an average age of 77 years old; therefore, these specific results are only applicable to the elderly population.  I looked through the research article itself and was happy to see that the genders were fairly represented in the test groups, with women comprising approximately 50% of the patients tested in normal, overweight, and obese groups.  As presented in the paper, authors did not find any striking differences correlated to gender; their results were equally applicable to both men and women.  It was acknowledged that there is some controversy among scientists regarding the association between brain volume and gender, and the authors cited additional published studies from other laboratories.  It was noted in their conclusion that gender effects are an important variable to pay attention to in future studies.  You can access a summary of the research article here.

Obesity is a sensitive issue for everyone, but a 2006 study suggested that it may affect the quality of life of women more than men.  A team led by Dr. Peter Muennig of Columbia University looked at existing data from a 2000 survey on health and quality of life.  More than 13,000 adults participated in this survey administered by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Dr. Muennig and colleagues also incorporated data from 1990-1995 on death rates in the U. S. into their study.  They concluded that health-related drops in quality of life scores were four times higher for overweight women than overweight men, and more than two times higher for obese women than obese men.  More strikingly, the authors found that there were about twice as many deaths among overweight and obese women than for men (when compared to their normal-weight counterparts) for the time represented in their study.  WebMD has a nice summary of the article here (including its caveats), or you can access the full article for free through PubMed Central.

You can help further these studies by participating in ventures such as the Illinois Women's Health Registry, or similar surveys administered in your state (or country, etc.)!  What do you think about these studies and their results?   Has obesity affected you or your loved ones in any way?

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I have been reading your articles during my lunch break, and I have to admit the whole article has been very valuable and very well written.I also found a lot of stuff in your pages especially it’s discussion.I think I will come back soon.

There are some good posts here regarding weight loss. I have clients that eat for a variety of reasons and they eat a variety of foods. Consider that the average American will consume a gallon of sodas each week. That's about 140 pounds of sugar. Not so much wrong with McDonald's egg McMuffin as there is with the sugar consumption. Try water instead.

It’s taken us years to get this way…so why bother changing now? The real issue here is there’s a lot more talk than action about obesity and losing weight! My take is it’s just not a priority for many people, and most of us don’t become overweight overnight!

I know that being over weight sometimes affect your self esteem, and has many other effects on your body and length of life; but I had no idea that it affected your brain. I know it is major in America and they say about 67% of Americans are overweight. Wonder why people think fat people are funny. This does not appear to be a laughing matter.

Obesity is a major health problem in all of the developed countries and should be addressed as a matter of urgency. The health of our future generations will be affected in many areas if we do not act now. Unfortunately most people do not try to address the issue, as it just seems to hard to do and with so much fast food readily available the temptations are everywhere. Your article just shows more evidence about the dangers of being overweight.

Besides providing you with suggestions that promote better eating and exercise, a qualified weight loss hypnosis therapist will also involve you to set up a plan for yourself. Goal setting techniques will be taught so you will know exactly what to aim for, how to go about achieving your goals and how to review your progress.

Great post, what you said is really helpful to me. I agree with you anymore. I have been talking with my friend about, he though it is really interesting as well. Keep up with your good work, I would come back to you

The issue is we are caught up in this Now Society, that wants everything quick. Our quickly paced society has developed our fast fix mentality. Quickly food and modern conveniences contribute not merely to these unhealthy cravings, they develop the problems. Lack of physical exercise, eating high calorie, low nutrient, processed foods are the significant players in producing this over-fat population. We want to understand you can find no magic bullets and quick fixes. They may possibly create temporary results at greatest. Are we asking the wrong question? Maybe the questions ought to be how can we get beyond trying to lose weight? Rather than trying to lose weight we should be focusing on finding fit and healthy. If you do this consistently, your body will start to look and feel its greatest. We need to recognize that no matter what program or item or diet that we may possibly undertake, we won’t be effective until we alter the way we think.

So you might use 150 pounds as the target number that you suggest to your subconscious mind as you fall asleep. That is more believable at this point in time and will be more readily accepted by the mind. When you do reach your goal of 150 pounds, you can then change your input to 120 pounds. You may also do this if you have to lose a lesser amount of weight.

I have to say that the psychological strain of self hate of obesity would explain the deterioration of these peoples brains. I have people asking me how to hypnotise themselves to stop obesity and the key is to break that subconscious trigger of eating=comfort because this becomes eating=self-hate. I like to use positive connections with healthy eating=comfort that breaks the psychological battle with in themselves. Anyway that is my 2 cents, loved the article.

I would say that anyone suffering from obesity should be very concerned with the findings of this research! Just one more reason to address weight problems as soon as possible. I wonder if there could also be a link with Alzheimers due to less brain matter? Interesting thought? EDITOR'S COMMENT: There is some research on obesity and alzheimer's that is suggesting a connection.

Thought provoking article. Obesity is such a big problem these days and while we can see most of the results of obesity, obviously what we can't see is also doing us damage. Thank you for this very informative post.

It's no secret that obesity has multiple negative effects on people. Brain age isn't one that's commonly advertised, but maybe it should be! I wonder how closely related this is to exercise promoting good brain health.

Thanks for the article! I agree, America really needs to starts paying attention to their weight problems. I believe it all starts with the youth. If we make the youth enjoy being healthy, in a few generations, the weight problems will decrease significantly, maybe even disappear. However, it is up to the parents of today to help their kids be more healthy, while doing so themselves.

I wonder if women are affected more by obesity because they are more concerned about their appearance. Your estimate of your quality of life may be strongly influence by your perception of your physical appearance.

Everybody should be health conscious. We must observe proper diet and exercise to avoid obesity. As what this blog says, overweight can lead to less brain matter. This is a very informative blog. Thank you for sharing this blog.

Informative! Also here in Europe this is a growing problem. To do something about it there should be taken measures on a government level to help these people.

I agree that age plays a significant role in gout but preventing gout from manifesting itself is the best way to deal with the condition if you’re affected – this mostly boils down to controlling your uric acid (which is the primary cause for pain and discomfort in the condition). The best way to get gout relief to reduce the amount of meat and seafood you eat and increase your intake of Vitamin C and water.

I sit in front of my computer all day and it really wears me out, if I get up and go do physical activity for 15-20 minutes I always feel immensely better!

This is very interesting research. As being overweight or obese can cause so many other health problems too, it really reinforces the need, particularly for women, to maintain a healthy weight.

Even if you are thin you can tune your brain by moving. I am thin and sitting all day in front of a computer…and feeling bad. When I move for 15 minutes outside (just a simple walk) I feel like Hulk and could work for hours. Unfortunately I am lazy and dont imagine that I need to move…

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Hmmm... it is very interesting to note that being obese could also be equated to a lower gray matter mass compared to your leaner counterparts. But, the real question there is, does it affect IQ? Does by having a bigger gray matter mean that you are more intellectual than those with lesser gray matter mass?

Will power is the most potent weapon in your armourery. If you want to achieve something then you need to be able to manifest it and feel it. What it will feel like once you have achieved your ambition or your goal.

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