Adolescent Obesity: Impact on Brain Health



The prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) parallels the rise in childhood obesity. MetS is associated with neurocognitive impairments in adults, which is thought to be a long-term effect of poor metabolism. Researchers at New York University thought it would be important to ascertain whether these brain complications are also present among adolescents with MetS, a group with a relatively short duration of poor metabolism.

Forty-nine adolescents with and 62 without MetS, matched on age, socioeconomic status, school grade, gender, and ethnicity, received endocrine, MRI, and neuropsychological evaluations. They found that the teenagers with MetS had lower scores on tests of mental ability and significantly lower academic performance in reading and arithmetic. MRI scans showed brain changes in children with MetS, including reduced volume in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory formation and storage.

This suggests that even relatively short-term impairments in metabolism may give rise to brain complications. In view of these alarming results, it is plausible that obesity-associated metabolic disease, short of type 2 diabetes mellitus, may be mechanistically linked to a lowering of the academic and professional potential of adolescents. These results in adolescents strongly argue for an early and comprehensive intervention. We propose that brain function be introduced among the parameters that need to be evaluated when considering early treatment of childhood obesity. These results strongly argue for an early and comprehensive intervention for childhood obesity, in order to prevent any impairment in cognitive ability.

Heal n Cure strives everyday to help combat childhood and adult obesity. The INSPIRE Core Wellness program effectively serves as a health and wellness program personalized for each patient through a physical examination and a study of the patient’s medical history, biochemistry analysis, and bio-impedance-analysis. As a family wellness center, we are able to work with adolescents to help reverse MetS, due to our staff comprised of a family medicine practitioner. Dr. Smitha Suravaram is able to work with patients as young as 10 years old to achieve their health and wellness goals.

Ref: Obesity and metabolic syndrome and functional and structural brain impairments in adolescence.