There may be another good reason for trying to lose weight, based on the results of a study led by John Gunstad, assistant professor of psychology at Kent State University.
A feature on ABC News shared that Dr. Gunstad and his team was able to associate weight loss with improvements in concentration, as well as overall cognitive ability. Dr. Gunstad shared: “We’ve known for a long time that obesity is a risk factor for things like Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, and more recent work really shows that obesity is a link to memory problems and concentration problems before that even begins… if excess weight causes these problems, can losing weight help reverse them? That’s what we wanted to research.”
The study involved 150 participants who were overweight. The memory and attention capabilities of these participants were tested by the researchers; some of them went on to undergo gastric bypass surgery, while others did not.
The study determined that 23.9 percent of the participants exhibited impaired learning abilities, while 22.9 percent displayed poor recognition memory. Participants who underwent bypass surgery displayed an improvement on all cognitive tests, twelve weeks after the procedure; this was not observed in those who did not undergo surgery.
Dr. Gunstad shared that the participants “were able to show improvements moving from the kind of mildly impaired range into the normal range, which clinically is a pretty good, is a pretty meaningful change.”
Coming out of the study, however, Dr. Gunstad identified three major questions that still need to be answered: what from obesity causes brain impairment, what brings about improvement after surgery, and whether non-surgical means of weight loss will bring about the same effect as surgery.