Obesity is undoubtedly epidemic in the modern world and one of the most significant health challenges currently facing the western world. It’s estimated that a staggering 26% of adults in the UK are obese and as many as 39% in America. The shocking nature of these rising figures has subsequently led to increased education and awareness in both countries of the dangers of obesity....
Nevertheless, information typically focusses on the damage being overweight causes to the physical body and the growing body of research linking obesity with brain health often goes overlooked or unmentioned. This is somewhat surprising, given the significant scientific evidence that being overweight negatively affects the health of your brain.
A large body of research in recent years has linked lifestyle factors with an increased risk of Dementia and obesity is one of the most important. The groundbreaking FINGER study, for example, identified regular exercise and a nutritious diet as two of four key elements in a lifestyle that significantly reduces one's risk of all types of Dementia. Obesity is a particularly significant risk factor for Vascular Dementia (VD), because those who are overweight are more susceptible to conditions like heart-disease, diabetes and stroke which in turn are the main causes of VD.
Research studies have also frequently linked obesity with worsening memory in the younger generation. One such study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, for example, discovered that people aged 35 and under with a higher Body-Mass Index (BMI) had trouble recalling past events in as vivid detail as those with a healthy BMI, proving the links between weight and episodic memory.
As well as being linked to Dementia and memory problems, being overweight can also affect your mental health. Studies have found that those who are overweight are 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with mood disorders such as depression and also bipolar disorder. Those who are obese are also more likely to have lower self-esteem and less energy than their healthier counterparts. Conversely, a reverse relationship has also been identified by scientific research, whereby those with mental health conditions are also more likely to become overweight.
If you are concerned about your own weight and the potential implications it may have for your own brain health, don’t be disheartened! The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to get yourself back on track. The two key contributing factors affecting weight are diet and exercise. If you’re aiming to lose weight, these two areas should be your focus. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out the MindMate App for daily nutrition and exercise tips as well as the meal plans and workouts to help you return to a healthy weight and build a lifestyle that will leave you healthier and happier.