Researchers Find a Link Between Less Brain Plasticity and Obesity

 Researchers Find a Link Between Less Brain Plasticity and Obesity

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Obesity is an ever-increasing concern in the United States. Besides being dangerous to your heart health, new research shows that obesity affects your brain’s ability to function. Here’s what researchers are saying about losing brain plasticity and being obese.

A September 24, 2020 article on Science Daily shares a study published in Brain Sciences. It concludes that obese people have less brain plasticity. This reduced brain functionality means that they are less likely to retain information and might take longer to master new concepts. But what does all that mean? Let’s take an even closer look at the several factors that contribute to obesity. Then, we’ll discuss brain plasticity and share new, healthier habits to boost brain health.

The definition of “obese.”

Approximately 42.5% of Americans are obese, which means that one in every three adults is thought to be overweight enough to be considered obese. Obesity is defined as being more than 20% over your ideal weight. Your perfect weight takes into consideration your height, age, build, and gender. The National Institute of Health says that this number means that your Body Mass Index (BMI) is above 30. You can gauge your BMI by getting your weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square number of your height in meters. There are many online BMI calculators available for easy checking of your BMI. The higher your BMI, the more chance you are of being considered obese.


What causes obesity?

brain plasticityObesity isn’t just an American problem, but according to some studies, obesity is something like a worldwide pandemic spreading rapidly and contributing to medical, economic, and social issues for many countries. If you’re obese, you’re at risk for some types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and at a greater risk of getting dementia. So what causes obesity?

Poor diet

Being obese develops gradually over time. Eating an unhealthy diet is a significant contributor to obesity which includes

  • Eating processed or fast food: These foods are high in sugar and fat.
  • Dining out: You tend to eat more when you eat out. If you get an appetizer before your meal, it adds calories. Plus, restaurant foods are often higher in fat.
  • Eating large portions of food: It’s easy to overeat if you’re with friends, family, or at a restaurant. You may be surprised at what a normal portion is if you’re used to eating large amounts of food.
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol: Alcohol is high in calories and sugar, causing you to gain weight quickly.
  • Drinking sugary drinks: Sugary drinks can pack on the pounds.
  • Eating for comfort: If you’re sad or depressed, you may be tempted to overeat.

Interestingly, overeating runs in families. If your parents overate, you might have learned bad eating habits while growing up. It can be hard to break the cycle, but if you know your parents ate unhealthy foods like these, you can begin new eating habits.

Sedentary lifestyle

Lack of physical exercise contributes to obesity. Sitting at work all day, watching television, or playing computer games encourage weight gain. It’s recommended that adults get 150 minutes of somewhat intense activity, like walking fast or riding a bike weekly. If you are trying to lose weight, you must need to exercise more often.


Your genes can contribute to being obese. You may find it a bit more of a challenge to lose weight due to your genes, but it’s not an excuse. Obesity is due more to an unhealthy lifestyle and bad eating habits than genetics.

Medical problems

Sometimes medical problems contribute to being overweight. Diseases like hypothyroidism and Cushing disease make it more challenging to lose weight and keep it off.

  •  Hypothyroidism: Your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones slowing down your metabolism, so you gain weight.
  •  Cushing’s disease: This rare disease causes your body to make too many steroids. Steroids increase your appetite and fluids in your body, making you weigh more.
  • Medications: Taking medications like corticosteroids, medicine for diabetes, or epilepsy also possibly cause weight gain. Also, antidepressants might cause weight gain.

What is brain plasticity?

Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity happens in the neurons of your brain. These are the nerve cells responsible as the building blocks of your brain’s nervous system. Your brain’s plasticity is its adaptability, its ability to change depending upon what’s going on.

Obesity puts you at risk as you age because you’re more at risk for disease or injuries. Having good brain plasticity helps your recovery. Researchers found that a healthy brain can rewire itself. Neuroplasticity not only means your mind can recover better, but you can have a good life afterward.

Besides controlling your weight, here are some other ways you can improve your brain’s plasticity.

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  1. Get enough sleep

You should get enough sleep to help your brain. Losing sleep prevents your brain’s ability to reset itself. Adults between 34 to 65 need approximately 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.


  1. Learn new things

Whether you learn a new language, take up dancing, or learn to play the piano, learning improves your brain’s plasticity. Any kind of learning activity strengthens your mind and give it more flexibility.

  1. Reduce your stress

Stress lowers your brain’s neuroplasticity. Find ways to reduce your stress, including

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