One Major Side Effect of Obesity, Says New Study

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·2 min read

Obesity, the second leading cause of preventable death in the country, impacts over 42 percent of American adults in the United States—and the chronic disease is becoming increasingly prevalent. There are a number of side effects of having a dangerously inflated BMI, including organ system damage leading to different issues such as diabetes, joint disease, gastroesophageal reflux, and being more susceptible to disease and viruses, such as COVID-19. Now a new study has identified another major side effect of obesity. Read on to find out what it is—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.

Being Obese Can Restrict Blood Flow to Your Brain

Scientists at The Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin have found that being overweight or obese can significantly reduce blood flow to the brain, a term called "cerebral hypoperfusion," which is considered an early mechanism in vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers investigated three separate measures of obesity in adults over 50—body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference, and physical activity. Using MRI scanning they measured brain blood flow, identifying the relationship between obesity and increased blood flow. They note that brain blood flow usually declines with age. However, the negative influence that obesity has on brain blood flow is greater than that of age.

They did identify one thing that can cancel out the negative effects: exercise. Increased physical activity was shown to improve or even negate the blood flow reduction. The researchers suggest getting at least 1.5 to two hours of moderate activity throughout the day that promote harder than normal breathing—like cycling or speed walking.

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"Consistent, Healthy Blood Supply to the Brain is Critical"

"Consistent, healthy blood supply to the brain is critical, as it ensures that the brain is provided with enough oxygen and nutrients to function correctly. If brain blood flow becomes impaired, it can lead to serious health issues as we age, such as increasing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Silvin Knight, Research Fellow at TILDA and lead author, explained in a press release.

"We know that obesity can predispose a person to age-related conditions, illness, and disease, and even reduce life expectancy by up to 6 years in men and 7 years in women, after the age of forty. Our study reveals clear associations between obesity and reduced blood supply to the brain in an older population. The study also shows the importance of being physically active for older overweight or obese individuals, as this may help to protect against reduced brain blood flow and the poor health outcomes that can arise from this." And to protect your health, don't miss these Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.