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Obesity - How It Affects The Human Brain?

Dr. Vijay Prasad 84% (50 ratings)
M.Phil in Clinical Psychology, Ph.D. Psychology
Psychologist, Hubli-Dharwad  •  9 years experience
Obesity - How It Affects The Human Brain?

Obesity is the new-age lifestyle disease with multiple ramifications. While its effects on the physical aspects are very evident, the damage it does to the brain are more severe, though not obvious. Read on to know some harmful effects of obesity on the emotional well-being.

  1. Leads to binge eating: There is a certain pleasure in eating sugary and fatty food, and this is lost with depression. Therefore, to get that emotional satisfaction, people tend to eat more chocolates, cookies, milkshakes, and other weight-accumulating food items, which further add to obesity. Greater the weight gained by a person, lesser the response or happiness from such food products.
  2. Increases impulsivity: The area of the brain known as orbitofrontal cortex, which is in charge of controlling impulsivity, shrinks in obese people. This results in people eating more impulsively.
  3. Affects immunity: Obesity is a major cause of inflammation, leading to damage in certain parts of the brain. This impairs the immune system, making the affected person more prone to infections and tissue damage. This leads to increased chances of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleeping disorders, eating disorders, etc. The chemical known as C-reactive protein increases as seen on MRIs in obese people, and which is usually seen in patients with chronically increased inflammation.
  4. Effects on memory: As the BMI increases, there is a decrease in scores of memory tests. This effect is more obvious in women after menopause. With increased fat accumulation, more hormones are released, which affects the memory. Increased inflammation also affects cognition and memory.
  5. Increased risk of dementia: With more belly fat accumulating, there is extra stress on the body to burn the visceral fat. This reduces brain size and causes certain hormones to release, which further affects the body’s ability to remember things. It has been proven that people with smaller brain size are at greater risk for developing dementia.
  6. Weight loss stress adding to more stress: When obesity sets in and the BMI goes up, there is an added pressure to lose weight, which further ups the stress levels. During these dieting days, the brain is constantly alert and finds ways to eat more. This also leads to excess eating. Moreover, there are indications that there could be genetic changes during this phase, which may leave a permanent mark in the person’s composition.
  7. Depression: When a person is not happy with their reflection in the mirror, the chances of feeling good and happy are very less. In this age, where aesthetics plays a major morale booster, an obese image staring back does not help at all.

So, if you have a risk of obesity, watch out. It is not just how you look, but how you feel is also altered. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Psychologist.

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