Can Losing Weight Improve Your Memory?

We already know that losing weight and exercising improves so many aspects of your life - it’s hard to believe it could also improve your memory. Memory is so important in this day and age of early Alzheimer’s and dementia - it seems like almost every day we're finding out yet another relative or friend has one of these crippling diseases. What if losing weight improved your memory? Would you think twice about stuffing your face with that decadent chocolate dessert? A Swedish study done in 2013 showed that older woman who followed a six month weight-loss plan scored better on memory tests. The study’s brain scans showed more brain activity during the encoding process when memories are formed and less brain activity when the memories are retrieved suggesting better recall efficiency. Dr. Andreas Pettersson the author of the study said “The altered brain activity after weight loss suggests that the brain becomes more active while storing new memories and therefore needs fewer brain resources to recollect stored information.” Another study tracked over 6,000 people over the course of ten years. The participants who were between the ages of 35-55 were tested on memory and other cognitive skills three times during the ten year period. The participants that were obese and had unhealthy metabolic changes had a faster cognitive decline compared to the others in the study. Northwestern University scientists did an all women study with 8,745 woman between the ages of 65-79 years old and found that the more an older woman weighs the worse her memory is. And the results were worse with women who carry excess weight around their hips also known as pear shaped body type. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine studied over 700 people who were all around 60 years old, 70% being woman. They measured the participant’s body mass index, waist circumference and used scans to measure the amount of abdominal fat. Their results showed that as BMI increased, brain volume decreased. These findings proved true in many other studies too. Turns out being overweight isn’t just bad for your health - it is also bad for your brain. These results are truly shocking to me, I have a grandmother with Alzheimer’s and maybe if she knew this information she would have changed her diet and exercised more. Then, maybe she wouldn’t have lost her memory as fast or at all. These findings raise other questions as well, if overeating is making us sick and lose our memories why do we continue to overeat and eat unhealthy? Ponder that today when you are making meal choices.  

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