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Being overweight can harm your brain function

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Being overweight can harm your brain and is associated with worse learning skills, attention, concentration and memory according to a new study

Body fat was also associated with worse visual-motor speed and coordination.

Two years ago cuddly comic James Corden slammed fellow US talk show host Bill Maher in a row over fat-shaming.

He said: "There's a common and insulting misconception that fat people are stupid and lazy and we're not."

The study of 9,100 adults across the world has identified a link between weight and brain function.


Corresponding author Professor Sonia Anand, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said: "These results suggest strategies to prevent or reduce adiposity may preserve cognitive function."

Participants aged 30 to 75 took a two-minute Digital Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). Figures are paired with numbers according to a code.

Higher total percentage of body fat (BF) and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) was connected to lower DSST scores.

This was after taking into account other factors including age, sex, educational level, race and ethnicity.

Prof Anand said: "For each nine percent increase in BF or 36 mL of VAT there was a reduction of 0.8 in the DSST cognitive score - equivalent to one year of cognitive aging.

"Compared with those in the lowest quartile, those in the highest quartile of adiposity using either metric had a commensurate three years of cognitive aging."


DSST scores range from 0 to 133 - with lower scores indicating worse performance.

Prof Anand said: "The strength of this study is that the findings are generalizable because they are derived from a robust cross-sectional analysis of healthy men and women.

"It suggests that the associations of adiposity measures with cognitive function persist after adjustment for established cardiovascular risk factors and educational level."

Real Time's Bill Maher caused a storm in September 2019 when he called for fat-shaming to make a return to lower obesity rates in the US.

James Corden, host of the rival Late Late show, said: "I've struggled my entire life trying to manage my weight - and I suck at it.

"We’re not all as lucky as Bill Maher, you know? We don’t all have a sense of superiority that burns 35,000 calories a day."

The study is in JAMA Network Open.

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