Obesity may lead to poor memory according to a paper published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. A research team from the Cambridge University analyzed the link between a higher BMI and cognitive deficits.
As obesity becomes an international health threat, researchers around the world are looking at ways to reverse the health crisis. Previous research already suggested that overweight and obesity may be associated with changes in the way the brain functions. In addition, a higher BMI has already been associated with some cognitive deficits.
In light of previous research results, the Cambridge University team hypothesized that a higher BMI is associated with lower performance during memory tests. Other studies have linked overweight and obesity with slight dysfunctions of both the frontal lobe and the hippocampus. Both regions of the brain are essential in memory formation.
As such, the Cambridge University study included 50 participants in the age group between 18 and 35 years old. The BMI of the participants varied between 18 and 51. 24 participants in the study had a BMI above 25. A BMI of 30 and above indicates obesity.
The participants were subject to an episodic memory test assessing both feature integration, as well as the context. The episodic memory test is known as the Treasure Hunt Task and functions on a simple what-where-when approach. As such, participants are asked to remember an object, its location and the time they saw it.
The episodic memory test took the form of a computerized treasure hunt task. All the participants in the study had to hide several objects. When asked to recollect their actions in the what-where-when approach, the aim was to evaluate feature integration.
The participants with higher BMIs had a reduced performance on the episodic memory test as well as individual components of the test. Their performance did not decrease with the difficulty of the tasks.
However, according to the researchers, the significantly lower performance is a worrying aspect. Cognition is key to regulate one’s appetite. As obesity may lead to poor memory, particularly episodic memory, individuals with a higher BMI may not be able to regulate their daily food intake.
Photo Credits: Flickr