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Can weight loss boost memory?

In the past few days you may have come across head­lines claim­ing that weight loss can improve mem­o­ry. If so, you may be won­der­ing what to make of this.

Let’s take a brief look at the study at the ori­gin of these arti­cles. Par­tic­i­pants were 109 bariatric surgery patients and 41 obese peo­ple (con­trols) who had not under­gone surgery. Bariatric surgery refers most­ly to gas­tric bypass surgery, which cre­ates a small­er stom­ach and bypass­es part of the small intes­tine. The bariatric patients were enrolled in the Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Assess­ment of Bariatric Surgery project con­duct­ed, among oth­ers, by researchers at Kent State uni­ver­si­ty and Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty.

The mem­o­ry of the 150 par­tic­i­pants was assessed before the surgery as well as 12 weeks after. Results showed that the mem­o­ry of the surgery patients had improved where­as the mem­o­ry of the obese con­trols had declined.

Com­ments: Obe­si­ty is among the risk fac­tors for Alzheimer’s dis­ease. It is also becom­ing appar­ent that being obese tend to be linked to mem­o­ry prob­lems in gen­er­al. So it seems to make sense that los­ing weight should reverse this ten­den­cy. How­ev­er the mech­a­nisms by which this may hap­pen are large­ly unknown: What caus­es the mem­o­ry prob­lems to start with is a mys­tery. Giv­en that both a bal­anced diet and reg­u­lar phys­i­cal exer­cise are key to brain health, there are prob­a­bly more than one vari­able at work here.

In sum, more research is need to under­stand what links obe­si­ty to mem­o­ry prob­lems. It is not known either whether los­ing weight with­out under­go­ing surgery would have sim­i­lar pos­i­tive effects on mem­o­ry.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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