“Though we are confident that obesity has a very negative impact on the human brain but till date we don’t have enough scientific research or study to conclude anything on this. Therefore the link between obesity and the brain may be a fascinating topic that scientists have only recently begun to explore. New research adds important pieces to the puzzle.”- Says Dr. Gurneet Sawhney who is one of the best neurosurgeon in Mumbai.

“Controlling your body weight & BMI is very important to maintain your overall health & to prevent many diseases. To control your weight you must follow a proper diet chart & should also consider regular exercise. However, if you are not able to lose weight by these methods bariatric surgery is one of the best options for you to control excessive weight.”- Says Dr. Harsh who is one of the best bariatric surgeon in Mumbai.

From the dimensions and functionality of the brain to specific neuronal circuits, recent studies have delivered a few important aspects of the connection between obesity and the brain. According to the specialists, new research uses MRI imaging to look at the connections between obesity and changes within the brain’s grey matter and substantia alba and structure.

Let’s look into the finding of few studies to understand the impact of obesity on our brain-

  • Researchers published a study that found a link between obesity around the stomach area and smaller brain size — specifically, lower gray matter volume.
  • A study shows that the brain’s prefrontal cortex that is important for complex thinking, planning, and self-control is comparatively less active in people that tend to overeat, which can cause obesity and weight gain.
  • Finally, research that appeared a few months ago identified an array of neurons that will curb overeating once they become active.
  • A new study now adds to the present mounting body of evidence, shedding further light on the connection between obesity on the one hand and differences in brain structure and form on the other.
  • Another research reports smaller gray matter volumes in people with obesity, thus solidifying previous research findings. They also found connections with the brain’s morphology.

More Body Fat, Less Grey Matter Volume

Researchers decided to research how obesity might affect the brain as few of the previous studies had found a comparatively higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia among people suffering from obesity. So, the scientists conducted a study where they examined brain scans of more than 12,000 people. The brain imaging techniques that the team utilized in the study offered insights into the participants’ grey matter and substantia alba.

Describing the brain in very broad terms, this central processing unit consists of an outer cortex of gray matter and an inner area housing tracts of substantia alba. The gray matter is full of neurons, whereas substantia alba primarily consists of nerve projections called axons and glial cells.

  • Study shows that having higher fat levels in the body is related to smaller volumes of important structures of the brain, including gray matter structures that are located in the center of the brain.
  • They also observed that these associations are different for men and ladies, suggesting that gender is a crucial modifier of the link between fat percentage and therefore the size of specific brain structures.
  • The study also shows that in both men and ladies, there was a correlation between a bigger amount of body fat and therefore the chance of small changes occurring within the brain’s substantia alba.

How Does Obesity Affect Other Parts of the Body?

People living with obesity have higher chances of developing a variety of severe medical issues. These health problems caused by obesity affect every part of the human body, including the brain, blood vessels, heart, liver, gallbladder, bones, and joints. As we’ve already discussed the impact on the brain, now let’s focus on the other parts of the body.

Respiratory System

Fat stored around the neck can make the airway too small, which may make breathing difficult at night while sleeping. This is often called apnea.

Digestive System

Obesity has been related to a higher risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a condition where stomach acid starts leaking into the esophagus. Additionally, obesity increases the danger of developing gallstones. Fat also can build up around the liver and cause liver damage, scar tissues, and even liver failure.

Cardiovascular and System

In people with obesity, the heart must work harder to pump blood around the body. This results in high BP & hypertension. High BP is the leading cause of stroke.

Obesity also can make the body’s cells immune to insulin which is a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to your cells, where it’s used for energy. If you’re immune to insulin, the sugar can’t be taken by the cells, leading to high blood glucose or blood sugar level. This increases a person’s risk of getting type 2 diabetes which is linked to a variety of other health issues, including heart condition, renal disorder, stroke, amputation, and blindness.

Reproductive System

Obesity can make it harder for a lady to get pregnant. It also can increase a woman’s risk of getting serious complications during pregnancy.

Skeletal and Muscular Systems

Obesity can deteriorate the bone density and muscle mass. This is often mentioned as osteosarcopenic obesity. Osteosarcopenic obesity can cause a higher risk of fractures, physical disability, insulin resistance. Extra weight also can put an excessive amount of pressure on the joints, resulting in pain and stiffness.

Integumentary (Skin) System

Rashes can occur where the skin of body fat folds. A condition referred to as acanthosis nigricans also can occur.

Other Effects On the Body

Obesity has been linked with an increased risk of many types of cancers, including endometrial, liver, kidney, cervical, colon, esophageal cancers. As your body mass index (BMI) increases, so does your risk of developing cancer.