Does excess body weight somehow reduce brain regions that regulate planning and impulse control? Is obesity a result of that brain difference? Or are eating habits, lifestyle, family circumstances and genetics to blame?
Previous studies in children and adults have had conflicting results. The new research doesn’t settle the matter and outside experts cautioned that misinterpreting it could unfairly perpetuate weight stigma.
But an editorial published with the study this week in JAMA Pediatrics called it an important addition to mounting evidence of a link between weight, brain structure and mental function.
If follow-up research confirms the findings, it could lead to new ways to prevent obesity that target improved brain function.
“We don’t know which direction these relationships go nor do they suggest that people with obesity are not as smart as people at a healthy weight,”said Dr. Eliana Perrin, a Duke University pediatrics professor who co-wrote the editorial.
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