Mental Health/Nervous System

Obesity Decreases Brain Size

That extra piece of pie may eventually lead to a smaller brain according to new research published online in Human Brain Mapping.

"The brains of obese people looked 16 years older than their healthy counterparts while overweight people looked 8 years older," stated UCLA neuroscientist Paul Thompson, senior author of the study. When measuring the amount of brain tissue those classified as clinically obese had 8 percent less brain tissue; overweight participants (as measured by BMI) had 4 percent less brain tissue compared to normal-weight individuals.


The frontal and temporal lobe regions of the brain responsible for memory and decision making showed the sharpest areas of decline in the obese study participants. "This is the first study to show physical evidence in the brain that connects overweight and obesity and cognitive decline," said Thompson, who is professor of neurology at UCLA. While this may be depressing news for 2/3 of American adults currently overweight or obese there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Walking has been shown to reverse cognitive loss and counter act the years of decline if conducted on a daily basis. Previous studies have shown as much as a 47% increase in the production of small blood vessels in the brain (leading to brain tissue generation) and 15% increases in memory in as little as 6 months among individuals walking more than 1 hour daily. If an individual has been overweight their entire life it does not mean it is too late to reverse the trend and heal both their mind and body, provided they are willing to literally take the steps to reverse the process.

Walking has been shown to be an incredible cure all and preventative measure across the disease spectrum, unfortunately the challenge for most is finding the time to walk a minimum five miles in a day to restore health. Americans are desk bound at work and couch bound at home. Changing behaviors is easier said then done unless the behavioral change is automatic.

This is perhaps the most powerful attribute of a treadmill desk. It is automatic. There is no thought involved, no will power needed, no dramatic life change, no additional time commitment and no sweating necessary. One simply completes their daily desk tasks walking slowly at their desks rather than sitting.

The cumulative health rewards are overwhelming and immediate. Sleep patterns improve, the body’s ability to ward off major diseases is enhanced, cognitive abilities increase along with productivity levels, mood levels improve, and of course excess pounds are shed.

The human body has evolved to care for itself over millions of years. Movement of the body is critical to its ability to heal itself mentally and physically. Treadmill desks allow the body to stay in motion during the day providing the healing powers it needs to achieve a quality life. While there is no single solution to obesity, walking has been shown to be a critical component to rebuilding health.