People who are obese are at an increased risk of health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. A new study says that obesity could also increase the likelihood of cognitive impairment.

Researchers from University of Cambridge Department of Psychology have found that overweight young adults may have poorer episodic memory, the ability to recall past events, than people with normal weight. This study sheds light on better understanding the link between overeating and memory.

In the new research published [pdf] in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, psychologists have found that adults who are overweight may have problems with memory especially the one dealing with past events.

Even though this study is small, the findings support existing studies that point to excess body weight as a driver in the alterations in the function and structure of the brain and its capacity to do certain tasks properly.

How Obesity Can Impact Brain Memory

Obesity Affects The Hippocampus

It is well known that obesity poses stress on the joints, heart and other important organs in the body, but doctors are saying that it also affects the brain and its cognitive abilities. Past body of knowledge suggests that obesity lead to abnormalities in hippocampal function.

The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for emotion, memory, and is in charge of the autonomic nervous system. Eating foods high in fat promotes changes in the hippocampus. If this part is altered, it leads to poorer memory. Changes in the hippocampus may fuel overeating and inability to suppress thoughts of food, leading to weight gain in already obese individuals.

Obese People Have Lesser Brain Mass

In a previous study by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles, they have found that brains of people who are obese had 8 percent brain tissue compared to people with normal weight. Overweight people also had 4 percent lesser brain tissue.

This study highlighted the link between being obese or overweight and what scientists describe as brain degeneration. In another study, scientists have found that obesity can cause reduction in brain size without other contributing factors. A 2.4 percent decrease in the brain parenchymal volume was seen in obese people compared to leaner ones.

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