Altered Brain Function in Obesity

Obesity is a lifestyle disease. It arises as a result of a combination of factors the major of which are overeating and inactivity. Obesity can spread its tentacles throughout the body like cancer. Almost every part of the body is affected as a result of obesity. Outwardly, obesity is visible and can be seen as a result of fat accumulation. The abdominal area tends to be the favorite region for holding excess of fat. The accumulation of fat occurs as a result of the ability of the white fat cells to gather huge quantities of fat. Obesity transforms not only the physical appearance of an individual, but it also brings about the way the brain functions. The changes in the brain ultimately lead to an increase in the severity of obesity. They also bring about behavioral changes.

One of the consequences of obesity is the increase in the incidence of inflammatory attacks in the body which occurs as a result of increase in production of highly inflammatory substances. It is the formation of inflammatory substances which is also responsible for the onset of heart disease in obesity. Such inflammatory reactions promote the increased formation of plaques in the coronary arteries. One of the organs affected by these inflammatory attacks is the brain. When the region in the brain which is affected is orbitofrontal cortex, this can lead to eating without inhibition and this can cause further increase in body weight.

When we gain weight, the brain becomes less sensitive to the pleasures derived from foods loaded with sugars and fats. Thus, we tend to eat more searching for the elusive pleasure which was previously available before becoming obese. Thus, overweight people continue to eat regardless of whether pleasure is involved or not. The situation becomes one of food addiction.

People who accumulate abdominal fat also run another risk and this involves a reduction in brain volume. Such people perform poorly in cognitive tests and also run the risk of getting dementia. Increased secretion of some hormones from the ever increasing number of fat cells in obesity can affect another important function of the brain. People who are obese tend to have reduced memory. There is also increased risk for the Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.