Cambridge University Researchers find link between obesity and poor memory
Obese or overweight young adults could face problem in recalling past events due to poorer episodic memory than their peers, a new study has suggested. A team of researchers at the Department of Psychology at Cambridge University put a small group of volunteers to a test of episodic memory and detected a link between high body mass index (BMI) and poorer memory performance.
It is already known that obesity boosts the risk of several physical health issues, including diabetes and heart disease as well as certain psychological problems. But it was the first time that researchers found a direct correlation between episodic memory and body mass index.
Dr. Lucy Cheke said, “Increasingly, we’re beginning to see that memory – especially episodic memory, the kind where you mentally relive a past event – is also important. How vividly we remember a recent meal, for example today’s lunch, can make a difference to how hungry we feel…”
Cheke underlined that psychological factors also play a key role in the issue. For instance, a person tends to eat more when distracted by TV or working, and tends to ‘comfort eat’ when he/she is sad.
The preliminary study appeared in most recent edition of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
A report published in the UPI News said, “The association between weight and dysfunction in areas of the brain is not a new one, and now a small study in England has found participants with higher body mass indexes showed worse episodic memory when tested.”
“It is possible that becoming overweight may make it harder to keep track of what and how much you have eaten, potentially making you more likely to overeat,” Dr. Lucy Cheke, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, said in a press release. “The possibility that there may be episodic memory deficits in overweight individuals is of concern, especially given the growing evidence that episodic memory may have a considerable influence on feeding behavior and appetite regulation.”
“Tests on 50 people showed being overweight was linked to worse “episodic memory” or the ability to remember past experiences. The study argues that a less vivid memory of recent meals may lead to overeating. However, other aspects of memory – such as general knowledge – were unaffected,” according to a news report published by The Nation News.
“But if they have a less strong memory of a recent meal, with a less strong impact in the mind, then they may have less ability to regulate how much they eat later on.”
“Concentrating on your food has been a message for a long time, but that may be a bit harder if you’re overweight. “Hopefully knowing what’s going on will help us to develop ways of helping people.” Keep moving, live longer
Aout 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese – a statistic that is on pace to be at 70 percent by 2034. In the United States, over two-thirds of population is overweight. More than 35 percent of adults in the United States are obese.
“Increasingly, we’re beginning to see that memory – especially episodic memory, the kind where you mentally relive a past event – is also important”, Cheke said. This includes how vividly a recent meal is remembered making a difference in feelings of hunger and how much is likely to be eaten later on. In fact the study, points to a situation of episodic memory loss where the obese individuals find it hard to remember instances or occurrences from their past.