How Weight Loss Can Improve Memory

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with over one third (35.7%) of adults in the U.S being obese, and 17% of children showing early signs of weight related disorders.

Obesity can lead to many health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But what many people don’t know is that obesity can have a negative effect on a person’s memory.

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A recent study done at Umea University in Sweden using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) monitored the brain activity of 20 middle aged women as they performed a series of cognitive tests matching names to faces.

After weight loss over a period of six months of dieting, the women’s memories were retested by matching the faces with the first letter of the name and all showed a marked improvement in memory. Through this research it was determined that memory loss due to weight gain can be reversed by losing the weight.

Where weight is carried can play a role

A study performed by Northwestern Medicine in 2011 showed that the level of memory loss was proportional to a women’s weight and varied depending on body shape (apple or pear shaped). The study showed that the more weight carried around the hips (pear shaped), the more significant the memory loss was.

Another study on memory improvement after weight loss was performed by John Gunstad, Ph.D., of Kent State University in Ohio, on 109 people that were about to undergo gastric bypass surgery. He compared their results with another 41 people that were not going to have the procedure. The study determined there was impaired learning in 24% of the recipients of the procedure and another 23% were suffering from impaired memory. Twelve weeks after the gastric bypass procedure, the participants were reexamined and it was determined that memory and concentration had improved in the test subjects.

A healthy weight program can improve memory

Gunstad determined that if memory function was recovered by the bypass surgery and rapid weight loss, that losing weight with a program must also improve memory. The effectiveness of steady weight loss on memory starts to peak at 90 days of a sustained program with balanced diet and exercise.

Medifast ScottsdaleStill another study at the University of Pittsburgh determined that seniors who walked 40 minutes per day, three days per week showed an increase in brain volume in areas of the brain associated with memory. So as it turns out, being overweight not only has negative impact on one’s physical health, but on one’s mental health as well.

Weight loss improves overall brain functioning

Losing weight will not only improve one’s overall health but will also improve brain health and potentially reduce the risk of brain and memory related illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain shrinkage and memory loss are normal features of aging, but rapidly accelerate with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Signs of Alzheimer’s may appear up to a decade before detrimental and irreversible symptoms appear.


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