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Surprising Science

Obesity Linked to Cognitive Impairment

Having a larger waistline may shrink your brain. Obesity is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which is known to be associated with cognitive impairment.

Antonio Convit at the New York University School of Medicine wanted to see what impact obesity had on the physical structure of the brain. He used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 44 obese individuals with those of 19 lean people of similar age and background. He found that obese individuals had more water in the amygdala—a part of the brain involved in eating behavior. He also saw smaller orbitofrontal cortices in obese individuals, important for impulse control and also involved in feeding behavior.


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