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Can Thinning the Waist Help Prevent Thinning in the Brain?

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On July 31st, 2019, Dr. Husain Abbas of MASJax appeared in an interview for local station News4Jax to discuss recent study findings tying increased body mass index, a common measure for obesity, to increased risk of dementia.

We know that obesity has many health consequences including cardiovascular problems and diabetes, but a new study in the Journal of Neurology1 also indicates your excess weight may also affect your mental health including your cognitive function and diseases like dementia.

Cortical thinning was found to be greater in patients whose BMI, or body mass index, and waist circumference was higher. With so many facets of the brain, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, being unknown, identifying factors that we can control is highly valuable in the fight against brain disease.

Michelle R. Caunca, one of the study’s co-authors, stated in an interview: “Targeting obesity, especially before old age, may be one potential way we can reduce the dementia burden on a population level.” She went on to say, “Our study, together with other studies, suggest that maintaining a healthy weight earlier in life before old age may also affect brain aging later in life,” noting that further study is warranted in this area.2

With known comorbid conditions also contributing to dementia like high blood pressure, Dr. Husain Abbas notes that this study doesn’t indicate causation, but does show a correlation. Dr. Abbas echoed Caunca’s sentiment saying “We know obesity causes high blood pressure… and that is just one other factor that we can control, especially since we can address that. We can lower your blood pressure and now we can also help you to lower your weight to try and prevent this from happening.”

While losing weight on your own may be statistically difficult for those with higher BMIs, surgical obesity treatment has shown great success in helping patients lose weight and keep it off. Bariatric and metabolic procedures offered at MASJax in Jacksonville, FL include the sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and duodenal switch. Each of these surgeries are typically performed in a minimally invasive manner and can often be performed with robotic assistance, meaning with advanced technology that decreases general surgical risk and operating time.

Decreasing weight can not only change your weight and lifestyle, it can also potentially improve your memory and overall brain function, both now and in the future. Researchers found that those with a lower weight later in life were less likely to show signs of thinning of the brain’s cortex where memories are stored. If you’d like to learn more about weight loss surgery, we invite you to view our free online seminar or join us in person for a live event to get started.


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