People with more than 25 BMI have crossed the 2billion mark around the world. If you estimate it is more than 20% of the whole 7.4 billion people breathing on this humble planet. The physical effects of obesity aren’t hidden as it makes you feel incompetent, prone you to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and to even some types of cancer. But there is little research on how obesity affects your brain and mental health.
We all know being overweight undermines our social activities, interactions, self-esteem and much more but it is not limited to only this now. Things have got worse and you need to take actions right away.
Relationship between IQ level and body weight
There is a statistically significant relationship between lower IQ and excess body weight as depicted by the finding of many international studies. But all of these researchers didn’t know the direction of this unique relationship. Whether obesity lowers the IQ or lower IQ causes weight gain.
Some studies suggested that obesity declines the IQ, however, more recent research based on exclusive longitudinal studies have shown the opposite results. They say lower IQ is one of the significant risk factors for obesity.
In 2010, a meta-analysis was published summarizing 26 different studies on the relationship between IQ and obesity. The meta-analysis put forward the conclusion saying that there is a strong positive relationship between lower IQ revel in the childhood and chances of developing obesity when people grow up.
Not only this, one Swedish study also backs this proposition. The researchers tested IQ of 5286 males first at the age of 18 and later at the age of 40. They assessed the BMI of the participant along and released the results that showed individuals with lower IQ have remarkably higher BMI.
More of, a New Zeeland based study volunteered 913 participants and assessed their IQs at the ages of 3, 7, 9, 11 and 38. This study also backed the same idea that children with lower IQ tend to gain weight in adulthood. And that people who have lower IQ at the age of 38 had higher BMI than those who have relatively higher IQ level.
Another study in the Great Britain followed its over 3000 participants for more than 50 years. They measured participants’ LQ levels at the ages of 7, 11 and 16 and later measured their BMI at the age of 51. The result of this study clearly claimed that the IQ level at the age of 7 can tell a lot about the BMI at the age of 51. This study also cleared the BMI of people with lower IQ level tends to increase faster after the age of 16.
A similar study conducted also in the Great Britain assessed the IQ levels of their 17,414 participants at the age of 11 and evaluated their BMI at the age of 16, 23, 33 and 42. This study also showed similar results saying that children with lower IQ levels lead to obesity when they grow up.
All of these studies ask you to take more care of your weight if you have had lower IQ in childhood. Obesity clearly effects mental health covering intelligence, cognition and neural functioning that makes it obvious that if your kids have lower IQ, you need to take early precautions right away.
Brain ages faster due to Obesity
Our brain grows, gets older, slows and dies. Its white matter shrinks and vanishes. But this process varies from person to person. Some brains get older way before they must. One of the factors that affect the growth and aging of the brain is the body weight and studies say excess body makes brain age faster.
University of Cambridge researchers evidently says brains of obese people have less of the white matter than those who have normal BMI. They studied 473 participants and concluded that obese people have anatomically 10 years older brains in contrast to people who have normal BMI.
Another similar study provides the assessment of 733 middle-aged participants and shows obesity is remarkably linked to lost brain mass. The researchers measured waist circumference (WC), body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of the involved participants and utilized the technique of brain MRI to observe the signs of lost brain mass or brain degeneration. And the results of the study depicted that people with higher BMI, WHR, and WC have more brain degeneration than those who have normal body weight or BMI. The researchers further suggested that this significant loss of brain mass or brain tissues can lead to dementia, however; research is conducted to prove this claim scientifically.
How Obesity affects our feelings
Obesity affects brain and our mental health by targeting the brain structure. Additionally, it affects our emotions notably. There is the neurotransmitter in our brain that is responsible for pleasure affects along with many others named Dopamine. And research says people with higher BMI have lower dopamine concentration. Declined availability of dopamine receptors may lead to the lack of pleasure after eating a handsome portion of food that directly urges you to eat more and more until you feel satisfied or until your stomach can’t welcome more bites.
This idea was backed by another obesity-related study that assessed the attitude of certain obese people towards milkshake over a fixed period of time. They utilized MRI to take the measurements and repeated the activity 6 months later. They compared the data and concluded that brain of people who gained weight during the timespan showed weaker response than those who had relatively constant weight during both observations. And that due to lower dopamine concentration obese people feel less satisfied after eating than those who have normal weight.
The research about the relationship between obesity and mental health is not prolonged and deep enough but the present research clearly shows how obesity rates are getting worse day by day. We all need to aware people about the alarming effects of obesity and how slight changes in body change can ruin your life.