New Research Finds Link Between Being Overweight and Having Memory Problems

Yet another excellent reason to shed those extra pounds.

It's no secret that maintaining a healthy weight is good for you. Staying fit can help reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer — and now, according to a September 2016 study, it might also reduce risk of cognitive problems later on in life.

In the study, researchers at the University of Arizona found that having a higher body mass index (BMI) is indirectly linked to "declines in memory and executive functioning" in older adults.

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To conduct the study, the researchers looked at data collected from 21,000 British people, ages 50 and older, over the course of six years. Throughout those years, the participants were tested several times for their BMI, inflammation levels (which were measured by the presence of C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation problems, in the participants' blood), and cognitive function (which was measured via word recall and verbal fluency tests). Based on their analysis, the study's co-authors were able to detect clear links between the three factors.

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What exactly does that mean? Well, according to this new research, people with higher BMIs tend to experience a greater amount of systemic inflammation, which occurs when a person has an overactive immune system. And greater inflammation has previously been connected to cognitive decline — so when the co-authors of this study were able to both link higher BMIs with inflammation and inflammation with memory problems, they were able to establish a correlation between being overweight and later cognitive problems.

That said, study co-author David Sbarra, PhD, told Health that more research would need to be done to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between BMI and memory loss, which means we can't definitively say that maintaining a healthy weight will help keep your mind sharp. Until more research can be conducted, though, one thing is certain — making healthy choices to keep those extra pounds off (especially as the holiday season approaches) is never a bad idea.

[h/t Health]

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