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Obesity bad for mental health

22nd August 2012

Researchers have said that being obese affects mental health and can hasten the decline of cognitive performance.

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A study which involved 6,000 people aged from 35-55 in Britain looked at their health over a period of ten years.

The research, which was published in the Neurology journal, asked the participants to complete tests for memory function and cognitive skills three times over the decade.

They found that obese participants who had "unhealthy metabolic changes" had a markedly faster cognitive decline in their test results compared to other participants.

Shirley Cramer of the Alzheimer's Research UK said: "We do not yet know why obesity and metabolic abnormality are linked to poorer brain performance, but with obesity levels on the rise, it will be important to delve a little deeper into this association."

"While the study itself focuses on cognitive decline, previous research suggests that a healthy diet, regular exercise, not smoking and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol in midlife can also help stave off dementia. With dementia figures spiralling towards a million, the findings suggest we should be conscious of our general health throughout life." 

The researchers stressed that they had only been looking at cognitive function and not dementia and that the participants had all come from the civil service, which may have affected the results of the study. 

The researchers wrote: "More research is needed to look at the effects of genetic factors and also to take into account how long people have been obese and how long they have had these metabolic risk factors and also to look at cognitive test scores spanning adulthood to give us a better understanding of the link between obesity and cognitive function, such as thinking, reasoning and memory." 

 

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