How Weight Gain Affects Memory Loss

Memory loss is the result of the brain not being able to retrieve stored information due to dying brain cells. Brain cells die off naturally as you age, but there are also many other contributing factors which can cause the cells to die prematurely. These include trauma, stress, not getting enough oxygen to the brain cells and weight gain.

Weight Gain

Weight gain can also be caused by a number of factors which include stress, certain diseases, as well as lack of nutrition and exercise. Many studies have revealed that weight gain directly affects memory loss. One study showed that memory scores decreased by 1 point for every point that the Body Mass Index (BMI) increased.

BMI is a mathematical method used to determine whether you are in a healthy weight range. To calculate your BMI, take your weight in pounds and divide it by your height in inches squared. Then take that number and multiply by 703. Anything between 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a healthy weight, and anything under or over is considered an unhealthy weight.

How it Affects Memory Loss

Weight gain causes your blood cholesterol levels to rise, which over time will build up along the walls of your arteries. This causes the arteries to become narrow, which results in poor blood circulation not only to your organs, but to your brain as well. As a result your brain does not get enough oxygen to sustain your brain cells, or to create new ones. Thus your memory fades as the number of brain cells begin to decrease. 

Furthermore, fat cells in your body create hormones known as cytokines, which are responsible for the inflammation that reduces cognitive skills.

Apple vs. Pear Shape

According to the studies, the amount of excess weight is not the only factor that contributes to memory loss, but the location where the body stores the excess weight also plays a role. Women who carry their excess weight around the abdomen are apple-shaped, and those who carry theirs around the hips and thighs are pear-shaped. 

According to these studies pear-shaped women were more affected by memory loss, than those who were apple-shaped. Researchers believe that this is due to the different cytokines that are produced by the different kinds of fats, as the fat components that settle around the thighs differ from the fats that settle in the abdomen area. 

Age and Memory Loss

One study was done at Kent State University in Kent Ohio in 2006 on 486 adults ranging in age from 21 to 82. According to this study, excess weight gain can affect memory loss at any age.

However, severe memory loss is more apparent in women who have passed menopause. This is due to lower estrogen levels, as well as the fact that the metabolic rate slows down as you age. A slow metabolism contributes to weight gain unless you reduce your calorie intake.

New cell growth also declines as you age, but according to studies your brain continues to develop new cells no matter what your age. But in order for this growth to continue, you need to engage in both physical and mental exercises, as the more you exercise your brain, the more cells will be developed.


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