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Medicine

Obesity May Accelerate Brain Aging 289

Posted by timothy
from the to-be-aware-of dept.
natehoy writes "According to the US News and World Report, a recent study has shown a link between obesity and the loss of neurological tissue. The brains of elderly patients who were obese had on average 8% less tissue than their trimmer counterparts. Overweight patients had brains lighter by about 4%. This could have implications for the onset of dementia illnesses such as Alzheimer's. Just one more risk factor to add to the growing body (no pun intended) of reasons to try and stay trim."
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Obesity May Accelerate Brain Aging

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  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:39PM (#29206755) Journal

    Between Obesity and the loss of food in my kitchen.

    But seriously - this seems like its leading to a "Overweight people aren't smart enough to care about their health" kind of thing.

    • by eln (21727) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:07PM (#29207197) Homepage
      No, actually I think this study might have some merit. You see, fat people tend to have fat, stubby fingers. It is very difficult to play the Nintendo DS, with its small buttons and tiny touch screen, with fingers that resemble sausages. Even the Wii is difficult to play for morbidly obese people, since its buttons are also small, and the physical movement required is beyond the capability of those whose couches have become permanent parts of their anatomy.

      What does this have to do with brain aging, you might ask. Elementary, my dear lardass. Without the Nintendo Brain Age series of games, how can we possibly keep our brains from aging? They're like steroids for your brain, except the link between the games and shrinking testicles has not yet been firmly established. So, unless we can come up with a good way for fat people to play these Brain Age games without causing them to sweat even more profusely than they already do, I'm afraid they're all doomed to early-onset Alzheimer's.

      It's basic common sense, really.
    • "Overweight people aren't smart enough to care about their health"

      I'm glad that we are in agreement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cyn1c77 (928549)

      Between Obesity and the loss of food in my kitchen.

      But seriously - this seems like its leading to a "Overweight people aren't smart enough to care about their health" kind of thing.

      Actually, it's leading to a "Overweight people like food and not exercising more than they like their long-term health" kind of thing. This is not exactly new news, but this study is another nail in the coffin... pun intended.

      More than 1 in 3 Americans are currently overweight. If we switch to nationalized health care, you fat fuckers better lose some goddamn weight. Because I don't want my tax dollars paying to treat your preventable illnesses because you felt like super-sizing it 3 nights a week wit

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:40PM (#29206781)

    Do they even TRY to adjust for the fact that fat people avoid getting health care most of their lives (because they're more likely to get tired of getting harassed by their doctor about their weight every time they go in for even a flu shot), drink more than thin people (getting shit on regularly can have that effect on people), and have crappier jobs than their normal-sized counterparts with the consequent lower incomes and inferior health care (because it's a lot harder to get hired)?

    I'm not pretending that obesity has no effect on someone's health. But it just irks the hell out of me that these sensational studies always fail to adjust for these sorts of related factors in favor of the sensational (and grant whoring) headline of "Obesity correlates with such-and-such other calamity." I'm sure you could produce a study arguing that obesity makes you stupid too, by simply failing to adjust for the fact that the obese are often geographically concentrated in areas (like the American South) where public education is shit and poverty is high.

    Why don't we just say that fat people are worse than Hitler and be done with it? You know, the way we've already done with anyone who dares smoke anything other than marijuana (which is somehow magically good for you), or who eats meat, or who drives an SUV (which some self-righteous asshole will probably link to sudden infant death syndrome in some future study), or any of the hundred other things that are going to kill us all any day now.

    Is it any coincidence that the medical profession was once closely linked to the idea [thinkquest.org] that all illness was caused by immoral behavior?

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:51PM (#29206949)

      Is it any coincidence that the medical profession was once closely linked to the idea [thinkquest.org] that all illness was caused by immoral behavior?

      Interestingly enough, in the Old Testament, Job's three friends made this mistake and were actually reprimanded for it. Calamity and "bad stuff" (including illness) does not, even in the Old Testament, mean judgment from God for immoral behavior.

      • by iamhigh (1252742)
        And you think a little thing like that stopped the church from spreading such a myth?
        • Nope. But I'd like to use it to point out that you can't simply say "the church" and expect you are going to cover everybody, as if they are all one happy family that believe basically the same thing and have for 2000 years.

          For some reason, every time I try to draw a distinction, I am typically accused of being nitpicky and just playing semantics.

          But really, it'd be like assuming that all Democrats or Republicans (or Conservatives or Liberals) believe the same thing. And if you call yourself a Democrat, y

    • by b0ttle (1332811) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:53PM (#29206969)

      ... the fact that the obese are often geographically concentrated in areas (like the American South) where public education is shit and poverty is high.

      "American obesity rates are the highest in the world with 64% of adults being overweight or obese"
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_the_United_States

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:00PM (#29207071) Homepage Journal

      drink more than thin people (getting shit on regularly can have that effect on people)

      I haven't seen that to be the case; I don't see more fat people in bars than I do on the street. In fact, there are a higher percentage of fat people where I work than in my favorite bar, although that's probably because most of the people at work sit at a desk, while my favorite bar's clientelle is mostly construction workers.

      and have crappier jobs than their normal-sized counterparts

      The ones with the crappiest jobs usually are doing physical labor, and as such are generally a lot more fit than the average slashdotter, whether he's a skinny nerd or a fat nerd.

      Why don't we just say that fat people are worse than Hitler and be done with it?

      Gee, this early in the thread and Godwin has been invoked? I wish overweight people would be less self conscious about themselves. Except women -- "you're getting too skinny" can get you laid! I'm all for fat women, they're easier to seduce than hotties.

      You know, the way we've already done with anyone who dares smoke anything other than marijuana (which is somehow magically good for you)

      Actually, there have been studies showing benefits to potsmoking, including a greatly reduced risk of cancer among those who also smoke tobacco.

      or who eats meat

      Come on now, it's only a tiny but vocal minority against carnivorousness. Join PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals)

      or who drives an SUV

      OK, you got me there. Driving an SUV is an almost sure sign of a reduced intellect. They cost more to drive than any other class of vehicle, and more people die in them per passsenger mile than any other type of vehicle due to their poor handling and braking and high center of gravity and lack of crumple zones. SUV drivers drive badly not from lack of driving skill but because their vehicles suck. Plus, ask an SUV driver why they have it and they'll say "it carries so many passengers", but notice SUVs on the road and you'll see very few with more than the driver. If you carry passengers, get a minivan -- more passengers, better mileage, and they're the safest vehicles on the road.

      But in the end, you have to die from something. When my grandmother was 95 she said to me "I don't know why people want to live to be a hindred, it ain't no fun bein' old!"

      She was overweight when I was a kid, but when she reached her mid seventies or early eighties she started losing weight. Her mind was sharp as a tack until the day she died (at age 99).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SBrach (1073190)
        I want to haul plywood, bags of cement, tile, etc from home depot when I work on my house, tow my trailer full of dirt bikes or quads when I go camping, go off-roading occasionally, carry many passangers occasionally, go on a cross country trip with my wife, kids, and 2 weeks worth of luggage and I can't afford to have multiple vehicles for every task. Which type of vehicle is versatile enough to suit my (and the average American family's) needs.
        • by SigILL (6475)

          Which types of vehicles are versatile enough to suit my (and the average American family's) needs.

          Fixed that for you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Vancorps (746090)

          Add up the percentage of time doing said activities, if they exceed a certain threshold you're better off renting a truck when it's time to haul some stuff. Given the crappy gas mileage and other down sides to SUVs it'll be hard to justify unless you're doing that stuff all the time. Of course if you can afford several bikes and quads then you can probably afford a $9000 point A to point B car which will save you a ton in gas, insurance, and maintenance.

          So while I don't have anything in particular against

          • by SBrach (1073190)

            you're better off renting a truck when it's time to haul some stuff.

            So I should rent a truck just about every weekend? I've had small cars (prelude, civic, tC, BMW 3 series) and the fact is my Double Cab pickup is much more practical now that I own a house and am constantly working on home improvement projects or groccery shopping, or hauling my dirt bike around.

            you can probably afford a $9000 point A to point B car which will save you a ton in gas, insurance, and maintenance

            A 35 MPG car compared to a 15-20mpg SUV or truck is going to save me around $1500 a year in gas. So I will spend $9000 to save $1500 a year in gas for a break even point of 6 years if you don't count the insurance

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Calithulu (1487963)

              Do you really think this would have ended better in a Prius?

              Given the weight of a Prius (2932 lbs and old ones are heavier) and its lower center of gravity than most SUVs, yes.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Vancorps (746090)

              First of all, yes, it would have ended better in Prius as the SUV tipped over which is not something a smaller car would have done.

              You'll also note my very first sentence. If time doing said activities reaches a certain threshold then it makes sense. For the majority of people it doesn't and they've made poor choices. For you it does make sense which is why I wasn't making any statements that they should be banned. I come from farm country, believe me, I know there are times when you need a truck.

              The rea

      • I haven't seen that to be the case; I don't see more fat people in bars than I do on the street. In fact, there are a higher percentage of fat people where I work than in my favorite bar, although that's probably because most of the people at work sit at a desk, while my favorite bar's clientelle is mostly construction workers.

        Just because they aren't going to the bar doesn't mean they don't drink. Usually bars are social, a place to get together with "the guys" and try to pick up women. Now if a few fat guys are going together, why go to the bar where in general drinks are more expensive, you can't control the TV and your not going to pick up women at 400 pounds, when you can go to the liquor store and buy some cheap booze and go over to a friends house and catch the game or whatever?

        The ones with the crappiest jobs usually are doing physical labor, and as such are generally a lot more fit than the average slashdotter, whether he's a skinny nerd or a fat nerd.

        Depends on your view of crappy, sure, bei

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Eh? I'm overweight and see my doctor regularly for various things. He has never once harassed me about my weight.

      In fact only one Doctor ever has. Of course I didn't put much stock in his diagnosis when, after suffering flu like symptoms for a month, no appetite, fever etc... He said I just had a cold. Then prescribed antibiotics for said cold.

      I've also had two alcoholic drinks in the last 18 months.

      You're making an awful lot of generalizations there. And the overweight people I know do not fall into the "w

    • by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:15PM (#29207343) Journal

      I think the study adjusts for those factors perfectly well, in fact you're introducing some interesting possibilities as to an explanation for the link. The study (which is small, so we should obviously be cautious about drawing too many conclusions from it) only states that people who are obese appear to have less brain function. A few theories were forwarded to explain the link, but your theory is just as sound, and doesn't disprove the possible link.

      Let's follow your chain of events for a moment. John is obese. John avoids his doctor because he's tired of being hassled about his weight. Fair enough - that's pretty common.

      John is now in a negative feedback loop. He's receiving almost no advice on his diet, no encouragement to exercise, and probably is understandably demoralized from being called "fatty" and getting unwelcome advice from health freakazoids that he's likely to give up on health maintenance entirely. Poorer nutrition and less exercise mean that John's entire body is going to suffer, including the brain.

      It's actually as good a theory as any. Obesity would have a significant correlation with people who are not caring for their overall health properly, and obesity can be both cause and effect in this case. John isn't a bad guy, he's just stuck in a rut, and he's headed for possible trouble.

      I know John's story.

      I'm 6' 3" and used to weigh very close to 300 pounds. I avoided my doctor for over a decade for the same reason John might.

      It's tough to get started losing weight, and having a bunch of skinnyminnies around you crybabying about how you should get off your very large posterior and do something is not, repeat not, helpful. It's demoralizing, and makes the task of getting started look all that much harder.

      It took a health scare for me to start the very long, very hard trail, and I'm now down to 215 (still mildly overweight, but I can ride my bike 30 miles a day without any problems). I wish terribly that I had learned my lesson an easier way, but I didn't, and I'm sure being obese for as long as I was will have long-term consequences. But I was where I was, and I understand how very hard it is to get started, and how the general attitude of society toward the obese does not make them want to help themselves. I wanted to just curl up with my Ben and Jerry's and donuts and leave me the hell alone.

      I've encouraged several friends over the years to get up and just take short walks with me, and started a couple of them on the road to weight loss, but you've got to approach that sort of overture carefully, and have a sense for when your friend is ready to start helping themselves, then offer them some encouragement.

    • by LrdDimwit (1133419) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:29PM (#29207561)
      So you 1) point out that correlation does not equal causation, then proceed to 2) say that it's likely that the obesity causes the brain aging seen in this study?

      Because that is essentially your argument: that obesity directly causes a host of other factors, which collectively explain the observed correlation (brain aging). Therefore, obesity causes the mental decline, only indirectly. I fail to see any significant difference between the implication that obesity directly harms the brain, and that obesity, while not in itself injurious, causes people to behave in ways that are.
    • by rve (4436)

      Why don't we just say that fat people are worse than Hitler and be done with it?

      Indeed, Hitler at least wasn't fat.

      He cheated though, receiving daily amphetamine injections, so he may have been a porker inside, much in the way he claimed to be Aryan inside, despite his short stature and swarthy appearance.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      Do they even TRY to adjust for the fact that fat people avoid getting health care most of their lives (because they're more likely to get tired of getting harassed by their doctor about their weight every time they go in for even a flu shot), drink more than thin people (getting shit on regularly can have that effect on people), and have crappier jobs than their normal-sized counterparts with the consequent lower incomes and inferior health care (because it's a lot harder to get hired)?

      I think there is an

    • Parent is insightful? Insightful, my ass. One just might draw a corollary that these aging, obese patients were lacking in neural material to start with, and that's how they got to BE so fat!!

      Seriously - people who give a damn about their health and appearance, people who care enough to take care of their bodies, will incidentally be taking care of the tissue that houses their minds as well. By no means does that mean they are minding their minds. There are plenty of stupid, ignorant skinny people to put

    • I suppose the "correlation" between obesity and heart disease, diabetes, and heart attack are the result of moralist chiding also. Hmmm.

      You are right in that obese people have the right not to be picked on and kicked around; however, it would be morally wrong withhold these results. Maybe you're mixing up conclusions made by the journalist versus conclusions made by the study, because you argue the study doesn't factor in the risk of biased sampling (for example sampling people in the South). Random samplin

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      What part of "correlated" do you not understand? All the things you listed, even if true, don't affect in the least the reported correlation between obesity and brain atrophy.

      If you read "correlated" as sensational then that's your problem.

  • Now I get it (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:40PM (#29206783) Homepage Journal

    Fat women have always hit on me. Now I know why -- they're stupid!

    However, from TFA:

    Dr. Jonathan Friedman, an associate professor of surgery and neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine noted that the causal relationship here is not clear.

    Another possibility is that The brains of overweight people have more receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin than those of people of normal weight, suggesting that being overweight may be down to more than just eating habits and may have an origin in brain chemistry. [newscientist.com] Clearly, more study is warranted.

    From the New Scientist article on the ssubject of big people with little brains:

    In an as yet unpublished study, Thompson's team has shown that exercise, which improves cardiovascular health and blood flow, protects the very brain regions that had shrunk in the current study. "The most strenuous kind of exercise can save about the same amount of brain tissue that is lost in the obese," he says. This indicates that it is blood flow that drives brain health, not the other way round. As these areas undergo the most remodelling throughout adult life, they may be more sensitive to any changes in oxygen supply and nutrients, Thompson suggests.

    But Deborah Gustafson at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who previously found that overweight women had less brain tissue than their leaner counterparts, questions whether obesity is driving brain atrophy or vice versa. She points out that brain atrophy in the frontal and temporal lobes, which also control eating behaviour and metabolism, could cause weight gain. "There are not enough longitudinal data available for us to know which is the chicken and which is the egg."

    • by radtea (464814)

      Fat women have always hit on me. Now I know why -- they're stupid!

      Why do you think that? The article says absolutely nothing about intelligence. The gray matter in the cerebral cortex of educated people is THINNER than that in people without post-secondary educations. Do you think that makes educated people stupid? The current belief is that their brains are simply BETTER ORGANIZED and more efficient because of their continued intellectual growth in their late teens and early 20's.

      People who think that

    • What a great way to think of yourself: That only stupid women would want you.

      Please continue. I'll even support you.

      Me, I will think women are wisest if they choose me, that I am the greatest man that ever existed, then work hard to actually make that true, and because of that get the greatest women that ever existed. MUHAHAHAHAAAA
      (*camera zooms away from evil lair, into the sky... and the movie is over*)

      Ok, on a more serious note, *I was only half-joking*!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Secret Rabbit (914973)

      You seem to be implying that the brain chemistry precedes the obesity. It's actually more than just likely that it's the other way around. History points to that one. Because, this obesity problem is very *very* new and it takes a *long* time for such things to change in such a large number of people. That is, unless you factor in the dietary changes. Hmm. Think that might have something to do with it? You know, the obesity problem linked to peoples diets? There's more than just a correlation there

  • I keep getting hungrier and hungrier, and my brain keeps gettting dimmer and dimmer! I was once a sex symbol; now, I am obese-demented superstar. I love stwawbewwy ice kweam and rubbing egg whites in my arm pits. Who am I?

    Give up? I'm MARLON BRANDO! (Yes, I know I'm dead, but being dead gives one the amount of time to learn about technology, and then become interested in sites such as Slashdot. So what I'm saying is entirely plausible and you cannot dismiss it).

  • Possible Viral Link (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheNarrator (200498) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:43PM (#29206821)
    Perhaps this has something to do with the virus / obesity link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060130031548.htm [sciencedaily.com]

    There is accumulating evidence that certain viruses may cause obesity, in essence making obesity contagious, according to Leah D. Whigham, the lead researcher in a new study, "Adipogenic potential of multiple human adenoviruses in vivo and in vitro in animals," in the January issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology published by the American Physiological Society. The study, by Whigham, Barbara A. Israel and Richard L. Atkinson, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, found that the human adenovirus Ad-37 causes obesity in chickens. This finding builds on studies that two related viruses, Ad-36 and Ad-5, also cause obesity in animals. Moreover, Ad-36 has been associated with human obesity, leading researchers to suspect that Ad-37 also may be implicated in human obesity. Whigham said more research is needed to find out if Ad-37 causes obesity in humans. One study was inconclusive, because only a handful of people showed evidence of infection with Ad-37 -- not enough people to draw any conclusions, she said. Ad-37, Ad-36 and Ad-5 are part of a family of approximately 50 viruses known as human adenoviruses.

    • by iJusten (1198359)
      Any excuse not to hit the gym (or put any effort to stay in shape). "I can't help it, it's in the genes", "I can't help it, I'm sick"!

      Maybe so, but eating two large pizzas for lunch isn't actually going to help.

      Like they say on the net; if you're fat, don't try to sugarcoat it - because you'll just end up eating that too.
  • I'm a heavy guy and my brain is as sharp as, um, what was I saying?

    • Something about pancakes I hope, I wasn't really paying attention either...oh look Twinkie, MINE! MINE! MINE!
  • This should be obvious. There is already a clear understanding of the cause of obesity via carbohydrate consumption, combined with the effects of said consumption on the production of advanced glycation endproducts [wikipedia.org] (AGEs) in the brain, and their effect on cognitive function.
    • WTF (Score:4, Funny)

      by VisiX (765225) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:07PM (#29207209)
      It is not obvious to fat people you insensitive clod!
      • by brian0918 (638904)

        It is not obvious to fat people

        Agreed, but that is what they get for trusting the AMA/AHA/NIH to provide advice grounded in solid science.

    • by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:13PM (#29207291) Homepage Journal
      If I may offer my opinion as someone who researches cognitive aging and the brain, I think the link (without actually reading the article) is likely due to cerebrovascular factors. People who are overweight often have high or highly varying blood pressure. They also often have arterosclerosis and all sorts of plaque build-up in the blood vessels. Basically their cardiovascular systems in general do not work as efficiently.

      The brain is very power hungry. It needs virtually uninterrupted blood flow to function well. People who have reduced blood flow (efficiency) could have lower blood perfusion in the brain. Their neurons may just be slowly starved of enough oxygen and nutrients. People who are overweight are at increased risk for developing strokes, particularly so-called "silent strokes" that might not have apparent effects at first but could over time.

      I don't think it's the obesity as much as the cardiovascular issues that are associated with it. I've seen the brains of older adults who have (uncontrolled or long-term) high blood pressure and by and large, they are not pretty. Their white matter is often pretty messed up. They often have larger ventricles (more brain atrophy) and do worse on cognitive tests.

      In any case, being overweight is one of the worst things you can do to your overall health. Maybe not now, but in old age overweight (particularly obese) people are going to have a lot of problems - physical and cognitive. Again, I deal not with individuals as much as with groups of people so everything I say should be taken as "on average."
      • by brian0918 (638904)

        I don't think it's the obesity as much as the cardiovascular issues that are associated with it.

        Well, if by "the obesity", you mean the fact that their body fat is a higher percentage of total body mass than normal, I think we all agree that that is not *the cause*. I also didn't make the claim that there is only one cause - there could be multiple.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:44PM (#29207819) Homepage Journal

      There is already a clear understanding of the cause of obesity via carbohydrate consumption, combined with the effects of said consumption on the production of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) in the brain, and their effect on cognitive function.

      I'd be very cautious when using the words "clear understanding" with nearly anything in cognitive science. Scientists didn't even pay attention to neurotropic factors in the brain until relatively recently, and if you ignore factors that can cause neural growth (like... excercise - scientists are guessing that excercise is neurotropic since we need to often map out new areas when walking a lot) it's hard to make a statement that obsesity caused by eating too much is the cause of cognitive decline, as opposed to obesity caused by not exercising enough. In fact, I think that if you exercise a lot, obesity almost vanishes as a cause of a lot of problems.

      You also have related issues like eating too much / not exercising enough contributes to diabetes, and having high blood glucose levels causes a wide variety of problems, such as damage to small blood vessels and a (likely related) decline in neural function.

      But we're still in the stone age when it comes to all this kind of stuff.

  • Or, does brain atrophy cause obesity?

    Or does lack of exercise in middle/old age cause both brain atrophy and obesity?

    Or does a high fat diet cause both brain atrophy and obesity?

    Etc., etc.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      The latter two make sense. #2 is obvious (exercise is known to improve brain function) and it is known that a high fat diet has an influence on the brain, e.g. promotes Alzheimer's.

    • http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/116/4/641 [nutrition.org]

      This shows how reduced dietary intake decreased ageing.
      This would be consistent to support the hypothesis of increased calories would equate to increase ageing.
    • Yep. That's the problem right there my friend. A survey of 94 people and they publish this nonsense when there are so many other factors probably at play.

      The fact is in 100 years people will look back and see how backward we are medically. Over the last 8 or so years I've learned a lot about the medical profession etc... And it's left me with no faith at all in doctors. I know more and more people with medical issues doctors just can't fix. I have stuff that's been going on for years and doctors just throw

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Or does a high fat diet cause both brain atrophy and obesity?

      No. [chicagotribune.com]

      We've become a culture where a serving of fettuccine Alfredo is nicknamed " heart attack on a plate" and french fries are frequently mentioned with the prefix "artery-clogging."

      "The results of cholesterol and heart disease research was not meant to be applied to healthy people or the world at large," said Dr. Donald McNamara, a cholesterol research scientist and director of Eggs for Health Consulting in Laurel, Md. He compares such an approach

  • Best Reason So Far (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Metal_Demon (694989) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:45PM (#29206859)
    I have been overweight for over ten years now and this is the best reason to slim down I've heard yet. I take a great deal of pride in my intelligence, so anything that puts it at risk can not be tolerated.
    • by natehoy (1608657)

      Whatever gets you started. :)

      For me, it took a health scare. I hope your reasons are easier and less scary.

    • You're going to choose to believe a study that involved a mere 94 people?

      I take a great deal of pride in my intelligence. And I choose to think this study is absolute bollocks since it involved less people than went to my sister-in-laws wedding.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      More power to you. If you want a geek-friendly diet plan, I've seen people here recommend the Hacker's Diet [fourmilab.ch]. It's a diet with widgets!
  • . . . that they eat their own brains!

    What a ironic twist on the classical Slashdot Zombie paradigm.

  • actual paper (Score:4, Informative)

    by flynt (248848) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:57PM (#29207021)

    Here is a link to the actual publication.

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/122539667/HTMLSTART [wiley.com]

    It always bothers me that these aren't provided, we can read the the actual results and not the news version!

    • Perhaps since you either have to have an account with Wiley-Interscience, be at a library that does or pay for the article. I suppose there should be a pro forma link but I don't think too many people are going to pony up.
  • Couch potatoism might be to blame. Our culture is based on watching TV and being on the computer (sniker) most of the time. Wanna help stem the bad health, go with your kids for a walk or hike. Walk the dog. Get offa the couch.
    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Maybe it really has to do with MENTAL activity though? You could tell obese people to get off the couch and go for a walk all you like, but if the core problem is that they're mentally lazy, and prefer passive forms of entertainment (like television) to active problem-solving and deep thought, you probably haven't fixed anything for them.

      In fact, I think it might be interesting to see if this claimed loss of brain function in obese people applies equally to obese people with a career in the computer field,

      • by Entropius (188861)

        I've often wondered whether differential calorie consumption by the brain is responsible for differences in obesity? Do the brains of less intelligent people (or people who prefer intellectually-passive activities) consume less energy and thus make their owners more likely to gain weight?

        Maybe there is something to this "fat, slow, and stupid" stereotype.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ardaen (1099611)

      Maybe just put a treadmill in front of the keyboard instead of a chair. A slow to moderate walking pace should be easy enough to adapt to for typing and would probably increase blood flow to the brain. I know going for short walks once or twice an hour improves my productivity (and creativity) while working on computers.

  • I mean they have a hard enough time finding a date being obese, but now it's out there that they are getting dumber faster as well that is extremely unfortunate.
  • Dont want to be a fat man,
    People would think that I was just good fun.
    Would rather be a thin man,
    I am so glad to go on being one.

    Too much to carry around with you,
    No chance of finding a woman who
    Will love you in the morning and,
    all the night time too.

    Dont want to be a fat man,
    Have not the patience to ignore all that.
    Hate to admit to myself half of my problems
    Came from being fat.


    Wont waste my time feeling sorry for him,
    I seen the other side to being thin.
    Roll us both down a mountain
    And Im
  • it sure seems that those who are more active and "vibrant" are also much thinner than those who are much less active and generally overweight. That level of activity does not generally just relate to physical activity from what I've seen. There's far more mental stimulation going on along with that physical activity. So, are they just noticing that less mental stimulation means less brain mass?

    LoB
  • I wonder if this is related to the effects on the brain of the balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids [wikipedia.org] in the diet. (high-fat Western meat-based diets usually contain more Omega 6, whereas low-far fish based Eastern diets tend to have more Omega 3). I've seen studies that have shown that increasing Omega 3 in the diet (via cod liver oil pills) in school kids can improve their school results - there is a lot of Omega 3 usage in the brain I believe.

  • My guess is, that sugar can be the link between those two things. Or generally all very pure carbohydrates.

    Because they usually not only make you fatter than fat. (It's a common misconception that fat would be generally bad, while it would be OK if there's still too much sugar in it.)
    But they also lack the vitamin Bs that you need to digest them... and that your brain unfortunately needs too, to work properly.

    Just sayin...

    And even if not, you won't hurt yourself by replacing them by wholemeal products and f

  • At least we have medical evidence to prove the world is populated by fatheads.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @05:12PM (#29209127) Homepage

    Once upon a time, obesity was a sign of wealth. Food was different in those days and only by consuming large quantities of it could you hope to gain the wealthy appearance of obesity.

    These days, the opposite is true. Our food is different in its content and in its richness. Average portion offered for sale are larger. And while it's true that people do less physical work, doing some basic calculation associated with calorie intake versus calorie burn and the increase of calorie burn with added exercise will reveal that exercise is not as effective at controlling weight as is controlling intake.

    It is my observation that reducing the intake of food is the most significant thing anyone can do when attempting weight control and what's more, there is no "I have no time for it" excuse when attempting to do so. It is also my observation that reducing the intake of food is extremely difficult for a variety of reasons. Our habits and expectations are hard to change when ordering or preparing food. (for example, don't we all feel like a cheap-ass for not ordering that double-quarter-pounder meal deal instead of ordering from the dollar menu to get smaller portions?) Further, the content of our most available foods are a lot higher in calories than they have been in the past and this is largely due to increases in highly processed ingredients and preservatives and the like. While other nations have outlawed many of the more offensive ingredients, the U.S. has failed to issue as many restrictions which I believe is one of the most significant reasons that the U.S. is one of the most obese nations in the world today.

    So what can we do? The best thing is to buy less and eat less. It takes a lot of effort to eat less, but in time your stomach will shrink and it will actually become difficult to eat as much as you are now accustomed to eating. This helps a lot, but it's the best answer for everyone and often leads to feelings of hunger and tiredness even after the adjustment in intake is made. (Keep in mind that the purpose of expensive and elective gastric alteration surgical is to serve this exact cause but people prefer to make these changes in their bodies rather than to make changes in their self-discipline.) Another thing is to start sending comments to your government representatives about fixing healthcare by fixing the problems with our food! (Imagine national healthcare costs plummeting because we aren't getting diabetes or any of the other health problems associated with obesity with the same frequency. That's what we see in nations with better controls over food content and since we're all the same species, we can expect similar results by enforcing similar rules.)

    And before anyone start the criticism or attacks, let me just say that I am obese. I am working on it, but it's damned hard. I'm 200lbs (+/- 5lbs) when I should be 180lbs or less. I own more clothes that I cannot wear than clothes that I can. (I don't want to buy more "fat clothes" because that merely feeds the problem. I want to wear my old clothes.) And to better tie my commentary in with the original story, I feel a LOT less smart than I was when I was operating at my prime weight. And since I have been losing weight, I am feeling a lot more alert and aware than I have in a while and I sleep better and need less sleep as well. The benefits are obvious. And when the main course of action is simply to do less of what is causing the problem, it's not unreasonable or even expensive to pull off. I sure as hell haven't stopped eating at McDonald's... I just eat slightly more than the contents of a kid's meal instead of super-sizing everything.

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