The higher level of fats according to height and weight causes the greater the risk of some diseases. So, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. Now, according to the new study, it is also good for your brain. Scientists from the University of Arizona discovered that having a higher body mass index (BMI) can negatively impact cognitive functioning in older adults.
Kyle Bourassa, lead author of the study said, “The larger the rate of your BMI, the more your inflammation goes up. Prior research has found that inflammation in the brain can negatively impact brain function and cognition.”
Previous studies also associate that Higher BMI to lower cognitive functioning. Now, here a question arise: how and why the two are connected was far less clear?
Scientists saw its effects. It was a black box. So, what is in between them? Bourassa, a UA psychology doctoral student said, “Establishing what biologically plausible mechanisms explain this association is important to be able to intervene later.”
Team detects data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. The data involves more than 12 years of worth information on the health, well-being and social and economic circumstances of the English population age 50 and older.
Scientists took two different samples from the study. The first sample includes about 9,000 people whereas second includes 12,500. Scientists then looked at aging adults over a six-year period. They found information on study participant’s BMI, inflammation and cognition. They also found the same outcome in both samples.
Bourassa said, “The higher participants’ body mass at the first time point in the study. The greater the change in their CRP levels over the next four years. CRP stands for C-reactive protein, which is a marker in the blood of systemic inflammation in your body. Change in CRP over four years then predicted change in cognition six years after the start of the study. The body mass of these people predicted their cognitive decline through their levels of systemic inflammation.”
“Our research provides a clear and integrative account of how BMI is associated with cognitive decline through systematic inflammation. But we need to remember that these are only correlational findings. Of course, correlation does not equal causation. The findings suggest a mechanistic pathway. But we cannot confirm causality until we reduce body mass experimentally, then examine the downstream effects on inflammation and cognition,” he added.
However, cognitive decline is a general part of aging, even in healthy adults. It can have a significant impact on quality of life. The research provides valuable insights for possible interventions and new research directions in that area. Reducing inflammation also improves cognition. It would be the gold standard to establish that this is a causal effect.
“If you have high inflammation, in the future we may suggest using anti-inflammatories not just to bring down your inflammation but to hopefully also help with your cognition.”
“Of course, maintaining a healthy weight is also good for overall health,” he added.
Having a lower BMI is just good for you, period. It’s good for your health and good for your brain too.