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Category: Science


Important Brain Implications for Obesity in Diabetics

Scientific research definitively supports the relationship that results in less adequate control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetics when one is also overweight or obese. This is the reason why health care providers are focused on helping their diabetic patients lose weight.

In addition, we’ve known for some time that having diabetes, as well as being overweight or obese, is independently associated with reductions in brain substance, as well as cognitive decline.

But the burning question seems to be whether or not these two conditions, diabetes and obesity, are additive. In other words, are the brain issues worse if a person has both problems?

To study this question, researchers in South Korea studied 50 overweight/obese individuals with type 2 diabetes, 50 normal weight individuals with type 2 diabetes, and 50 participants without weight issues or diabetes. The participants underwent evaluation of their cognitive function, close measurement of their blood sugars, and MRI evaluations to study the structure of their brains.

What the researchers found was truly profound. They noted significant brain changes with thinning of the brain’s cortex and disruption of the deep white matter as well as a reduction in brain function, even in the early stages of type 2 diabetes when excess weight was present. The authors concluded:

An increased awareness of overweight/obesity-related risk is necessary to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes-related brain atrophy and cognitive dysfunction from early stage type 2 diabetes onward.

So, while it is a well-accepted notion that diabetics who are overweight/obese can improve their blood sugar control by losing weight, the relationship between diabetes and overweight/obesity to brain shrinkage and reduced functionality that these researchers discovered makes weight control an even more important goal.

  • Karen

    Whilst the connection between these conditions may be evident, it does still raise question, to me anyway, as to whether the cognitive decline is itself a symptom of the conditions that have brought about the obesity and type 2 diabetes. That, by finding a solution to the causes of both obesity and type2 diabetes, addreses the cognitive aspect also…and probably many other symptoms. Current science research still seems better at explaining the pathways of how humans may over store and the affects of this… but struggles to offer effective explanations and solutions to reverse that without further loss of health in different areas.

  • ellie winslow

    Is the brain shrinkage and/or cognitive decline a result of the obesity or of the inflammation caused by the obesity? We know fat cells are modified cells of the immune system that produce inflammation under conditions of obesity…so I think the question bears asking.

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