Can Obesity in Adolescence Influence Cognitive Function in Adulthood?

Junk Food CollageWe are all well aware of the many negative health consequences associated with obesity and having a high Body Mass Index, or BMI. Body Mass Index is a calculation of a person’s weight divided by the square of their height. A high BMI is associated with being overweight or obese.

A number of studies have already documented how obesity in adults can affect cognitive function but, until recently, the link between high BMI in adolescence and cognitive function in adulthood had not been examined.

Researchers at Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine sought to explore this link by tracking individuals starting at 17 years old for 33 years, recording BMI and cognitive functioning over this period. The study found that higher BMI in adolescence did impact cognitive function in adulthood which suggests that poor cognitive function in later life may have its beginnings in adolescence. Other aspects of this study also examined height and socioeconomic position in adolescence as potential factors impacting cognitive decline in later life.

Health issues associated with childhood and adolescent obesity are already well known. And while prevention efforts are gaining more support, we may now have yet another compelling reason to begin adopting good healthy habits as early as possible in order to ensure positive future outcomes and a better quality of life well into late adulthood.

More information about this research can be found in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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