According to a new study by researchers at Georgia Regents University, obesity may lead to decreased brain function. The New York Times shared the findings of the study on their “Well” blog on March 5.
The study, which used mice as subjects, showed that excess fat led to memory loss and the inability to learn tasks. It was previously known that fat cells release harmful substances into the bloodstream that can lead to inflammation and other health concerns. However, it has always been believed that the blood-brain barrier that usually protects the brain made the brain immune to those harmful substances.
The new study found a hole in that theory. It seems that obesity can tear down that protective barrier and allow the negative effects of fat cells to also reach the brain. When that happens, synapse function is reduced, meaning the messages that flow to and from the brain are interrupted.
The study also showed that mice who lost fat but gained muscle faired much better when brain function was tested.
Though the study on fat cells was performed on mice, researchers believe there is a possibility that human bodies may respond in the same way. If this is true, it means that being overweight can lead to even more health problems than medical researchers have ever known and the need to lose weight has become that much more crucial to overall good health.
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