When discussing weight loss surgery, patients are generally concerned with their physical health and the size of their midriff. But what if losing weight also increased your mental health and boosted the power of your brain? A new study suggests it just might.
A team of scientists in Brazil studied the effects of gastric bypass surgery on the brains of obese women. The study examined the rate at which their brains metabolized sugar before and after surgery and found that after the procedure, the rate was more in line with women who are in a healthy weight range. Brains of the overweight women processed sugar much more quickly, which could indicate that other cognitive tasks were being slowed down. The tests also revealed that a change had occurred in a portion of the brain believed to be directly related to Alzheimer's disease. So, not only were these women improving their brain function by having gastric surgery, they were also potentially reducing their risk for Alzheimer's.
The scientists also administered IQ as well as other tests to gauge the patients' executive function. The results showed that the brain is essentially another organ that benefits from weight loss. The tests showed increased activity in the brains of the obese women revealing that being overweight forces the brain to work harder in order to perform the same tasks as healthier individuals. It could also be inferred that these women experienced improved cognitive function along the lines of planning, strategizing, and organizing.
The participants were severely obese, thus required the drastic measure of bypass surgery. It was also a fairly small sample size. So, it is unclear what effects weight loss would have on brain function for mildly overweight individuals who do not require surgery. While the study is far from definitive, it is still very encouraging. At the very least it should offer yet one more reason why achieving and maintaining a healthy weight should be important for everyone.
Find a doctor in your area if you’re in need of a consultation or would like to learn more about the benefits of weight loss.