Sunday December 8, 2019

Researchers Associate Obesity With Brain Damage

Obesity can cause brain damage, says study

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Obesity
Obesity can trigger inflammation in the nervous system and can cause brain damage. Pixabay

While obesity is primarily associated with weight gain, a new study suggests it triggers inflammation in the nervous system that could damage important regions of the brain.

Developments in MRI, like diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a technique that tracks the diffusion of water along the brain’s signal-carrying white matter tracts, have enabled researchers to study this damage directly.

“Brain changes were found in obese adolescents related to regions responsible for control of appetite, emotions and cognitive functions,” said study co-author Pamela Bertolazzi from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The World Health Organisation (WTO) data indicates the number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 32 million in 1990 to 41 million in 2016 globally.

For the study, researchers compared DTI results in 59 obese and 61 healthy adolescents, aged 12-16 years.

From DTI, the researchers derived a measure called fractional anisotropy (FA), which correlates with the condition of the brain’s white matter. A reduction in fractional anisotropy is indicative of increasing damage in the white matter.

The results showed reduction of FA values in the obese adolescents in regions located in the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibre that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Decrease of fractional anisotropy was also found in the middle orbitofrontal gyrus, a brain region related to emotional control and the reward circuit. None of the brain regions in obese patients had increased fractional anisotropy.

Effects of obesity
People who suffer from obesity face problems related to appetite, emotions and cognitive functions. Pixabay

According to researchers, this pattern of damage correlated with some inflammatory markers, like leptin, a hormone made by fat cells that helps regulate energy and fat stores.

In some obese people, the brain doesn’t respond to leptin, causing them to keep eating despite adequate or excessive fat stores. This condition, known as leptin resistance, makes the fat cells produce even more leptin.

Worsening condition of the white matter was also associated with levels of insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Obese people often suffer from insulin resistance.

“Our maps showed a positive correlation between brain changes and hormones, such as leptin and insulin,” Bertolazzi said.

Also Read- Consumption Of Sugary Beverages Declines Among US Kids: Study

“In the future, we would like to repeat brain MRI in these adolescents after multi-professional treatment for weight loss to assess if the brain changes are reversible,” she said.

The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), scheduled from December 1 to 6 in the USA. (IANS)

Next Story

Parents With Single Child More Likely to Tackle an Obese Kid: Study

Researchers found mothers of singleton children were more likely to be obese themselves

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Researchers have found that only Child, who researchers refer to as 'singleton,' have less healthy family eating practices, beverage choices, and total Healthy Eating Index 2010 score, coming in lower on three out of the 12 areas measured. Pixabay

Parents with only Child are more likely to tackle an obese kid as children without siblings may be at a higher risk of gaining weight than those who have brothers and sisters, say researchers.

This is because families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child, the study added.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that this kind of obesity could be seven times more common among youngsters.

“Healthier eating behaviours and patterns may result from household-level changes rather than peer exposure, as peer exposure is also present in away-from-home care,” said study lead author Chelsea L. Kracht from the University of Oklahoma in the US.

According to the researchers, data was self-reported in daily food logs kept by mothers over the course of three days — two weekdays and one weekend day. Teachers kept logs by proxy for any food children ate while at school.

Mothers also completed the Family Nutrition and Physical Activity questionnaire to evaluate typical family eating behaviour like food and beverage choice.

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Parents with only Child are more likely to tackle an obese kid as children without siblings may be at a higher risk of gaining weight than those who have brothers and sisters, say researchers. Pixabay

Researchers have found that only-children, who researchers refer to as ‘singletons,’ had less healthy family eating practices, beverage choices, and total Healthy Eating Index 2010 score, coming in lower on three out of the 12 areas measured.

They also had significantly lower total scores across weekdays, weekends, and on average, indicating there are both individual and collective differences in eating patterns between the groups.

Researchers found mothers of singleton children were more likely to be obese themselves. Moreover, maternal BMI had a much stronger connection to child BMI percentile and waist circumference percentile than singleton status.

Maternal BMI did not significantly contribute to overall eating patterns but did contribute to empty calories.

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Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single Child, the study added. Pixabay

The research also found that time spent in away-from-home care like school and daycare was not connected to children’s eating patterns.

“Nutrition professionals must consider the influence of family and siblings to provide appropriate and tailored nutrition education for families of young children,” said Kracht.

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“Efforts to help all children and families establish healthy eating habits and practices must be encouraged,” Kracht added. (IANS)