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More Obesity Is Linked To Poorer Memory

Update Date: Mar 01, 2016 02:06 PM EST

Did you know that the more overweight you are, the thinner your memory could be?

The University of Cambridge in a study showed the link between high Body Mass Index and poorer episodic memory, which is the ability to recollect past events and can help you to conduct your everyday life.

Among 18 to 35-year-olds, body weight could impact the structure and function of the brain and cognition. In a test with 50 participants who had BMIs between 18 and 51, they all took a memory test and confirmed the surmise, reports a news release.

It was found that with rising BMI, recollection decreased.

"We're not saying that overweight people are necessarily more forgetful, but if these results are generalizable to memory in everyday life, then it could be that overweight people are less able to vividly relive details of past events - such as their past meals," Dr. Lucy Cheke, the lead author, said. "Research on the role of memory in eating suggests that this might impair their ability to use memory to help regulate consumption. In other words, it is possible that becoming overweight may make it harder to keep track of what and how much you have eaten, potentially making you more likely to overeat."

Hence, the structural and functional brain changes in humans with higher BMIs can be linked with a reduced ability to retrieve or even form memories.

"Increasingly, we're beginning to see that memory - especially episodic memory, the kind where you mentally relive a past event - is also important," Cheke said. "How vividly we remember a recent meal, for example, today's lunch, can make a difference to how hungry we feel and how much we are likely to reach out for that tasty chocolate bar later on."

Researchers caution that further research is necessary.

Dr. Jon Simons, a co-author, added that understanding the psychological parts of overeating can help us to understand obesity better, and show us how we can fight it.

"Understanding what drives our consumption and how we instinctively regulate our eating [behavior] is becoming more and more important given the rise of obesity in society," Cheke said. "We know that to some extent hunger and satiety are driven by the balance of hormones in our bodies and brains, but psychological factors also play an important role - we tend to eat more when distracted by television or working, and perhaps to 'comfort eat' when we are sad, for example."

The findings were published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

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