PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Obesity is linked to a variety of health problems, but what about the size of your brain? Does a bigger brain mean you’re smarter? That question was answered in a new study.
An American Academy of Neurology study claims there is a connection between the two. The research looked at data on more than 9,000 people with an average age of 55.
It calculated measurements of each person’s body mass index (BMI), waste-to-hip ratio and overall body fat.
They then used MRI scans to examine brain volume of the participants.
“What they found out in this study was, that whether you take BMI or whether you take the waist-to-hip ratio, they’re both related to higher BMI, and waist-to-hip ratio are related to smaller brain volumes,” Dr. Jagan Pillai said.
Neurologists say the size or the volume of a brain is not linked to a person’s intelligence. The research also found that not only did the obese people in the study have smaller brains, the MRI’s showed lower levels of gray matter.
That is part of the brain that regulates muscle control, memory, sensory perception and speech, among other things.
While the results point to a possible association between obesity and brain size, they do not establish that body fat necessarily causes changes in the brain.
Aside from brain size, doctors say obesity is a known risk factor for serious health issues, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Obesity does impact the brain in terms of things such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.