Obesity Associated with Declining Brain Function in Children: Study - medtigo



Obesity Associated with Declining Brain Function in Children: Study

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According to Cision PRS Newswire, Researchers discovered that increased weight and body mass index (BMI) in early adolescence are connected with poor brain health using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  

Adult obesity and poor brain function are linked, according to Simone Kaltenhauser, a postdoctoral researcher in radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. “Previous studies on children have mainly focussed on small, distinct study groups or specialized characteristics of brain health,” the researchers write.  

Overweight and obese children are becoming more common in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-fifth of youngsters in the United States are overweight. To create a representative sample of the community, Kaltenhauser used MRI data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) project, which comprised 11,878 youngsters aged 9 and 10 from 21 sites around the nation.  

According to Kaltenhauser, it isn’t easy to find any dataset that accurately depicts the population of the United States. The research population included 5,169 (51.9%) females after eliminating children with eating problems, neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions, and traumatic brain damage.

BMI z-scores, which are relative weight measurements that take a child’s age, gender, and height into consideration, found that 21% and 17.6% of the children in the research group were overweight and obese, respectively.  

The scientists studied data from structural MRI and resting-state functional MRI (fMRI), which offers a measure of brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow, to get a holistic picture of the individual’s brain health. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging allows researchers to investigate the connections between distinct brain areas, or “resting-state networks.”

Data from diffusion tensor imaging and restriction spectrum imaging and data from more typical diffusion MRI approaches were also analyzed. The researchers employed linear models to assess the correlations between weight and BMI z-scores and imaging data after controlling for age, gender, race/ethnicity, handedness, and socioeconomic level.  

Children with more significant body mass index (BMI) z-scores had brain abnormalities, including severe white matter loss. Damage was seen in the tracts that connect the lobes of both hemispheres and the white matter of the corpus callosum, the principal connection between the two halves of the brain.  

According to Kaltenhauser, the fact that these modifications could be observed at such an early stage of development is extraordinary. The researchers also discovered a link between decreased cortical thickness (the brain’s outermost layer) and poorer executive function.  

According to Kaltenhauser, this decrease in cortical thickness among children with greater weight and BMI z-scores was expected based on data from the ABCD study’s smaller subsamples. On the other hand, the degree of white matter degradation astounded us. “Increasing body mass index and weight are related with implications to physical and cognitive health,” writes Kaltenhauser.


The study’s senior author, neuroradiologist and assistant professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale School of Medicine, Sam Payabvash, M.D., said the findings provide an essential mechanistic explanation for previous studies that show higher BMI in children is associated with poor cognitive functioning and school performance. 



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