According to a recent study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, being overweight in your 40s, may shrink your brain, considerably — aging it by as much as 10 years.
As for how it occurs, people who are walking a thin line between maintaining a normal weight and obesity during their middle ages, have brains with much less white matter than people than those of the same age at a healthy weight. Why is this important you ask? White matter tissue helps the brain’s three main parts: the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain transmit messages quickly and operate as efficiently as possible with each other, says the study’s first author, Lisa Ronan from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge,.
“We found that this difference in volume equated to a brain-age increase of 10 years in the overweight/obese group,” said Ronan of the study which included MRI-based data from 473 men and women, 246 which were of healthy weight, 150 overweight, and 77 obese, between the ages of 20 and 87.
“The fact that we only saw these differences from middle-age onwards raises the possibility that we may be particularly vulnerable at this age,” senior study author Paul Fletcher added in a press release. “It will also be important to find out whether these changes could be reversible with weight loss, which may well be the case.”