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Obesity messes with the brain

Memory and concentration diminish as organ's wiring sustains damage

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12:00pm, March 25, 2011

Obesity subtly diminishes memory and other features of thinking and reasoning even among seemingly healthy people, an international team of scientists reports. At least some of these impairments appear reversible through weight loss. Researchers also report one likely mechanism for those cognitive deficits: damage to the wiring that links the brain’s information-processing regions.

A number of studies in recent years have shown that individuals with diseases linked to obesity, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes, don’t score as well on cognitive tests as less hefty individuals do. To test whether weight alone — and not disease — might be partially responsible, John Gunstad of Kent State University in Ohio and his colleagues recruited 150 obese individuals for a series of cognitive tests. These people weighed on average just under 300 pounds, although some were substantially heavier. Two-thirds would shortly undergo weig

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