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High BMI Accelerates Brain Aging by 12 Years

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Recent research shows that high BMI negatively affects brain health, causing smaller brain volume and increased brain lesions, particularly in younger and older adults, underscoring the importance of managing BMI for better neurological outcomes.

A new study highlights the effects of high cumulative BMI on brain health across various age groups.

A recent study published in Health Data Science, a Science Partner Journal, highlights the substantial impact of high cumulative body mass index (BMI) on brain health. Conducted by Associate Professor Han Lv from Beijing Friendship Hospital, Capital Medical University, the research indicates that a high BMI correlates with reduced brain volume, increased white matter lesions, and compromised microstructural integrity.

The study analyzed data from a 16-year population-based cohort to investigate the effects of cumulative BMI on neuroimaging features in adults aged 25 to 83 years. Researchers discovered that high BMI was linked to smaller brain volume and larger volumes of white matter hyperintensity (WMH), particularly in adults younger than 45 years and those older than 60 years.

Causal Association Betweem BMI and Brain Health

High BMI is causally associated with smaller brain volume, larger volume of white matter lesions, and abnormal microstructural integrity. Credit: Lv, Han; Beijing Friendship Hospital, Capital Medical University

“High cumulative BMI is detrimental to brain health, especially for younger adults under 45 years, where it corresponds to approximately 12 years of brain aging,” said Associate Professor Han Lv. “Maintaining a BMI below 26.2 kg/m² is suggested for better brain health.”

The study utilized a generalized linear model to evaluate the association between cumulative BMI and various neuroimaging features, including brain macrostructure, white matter integrity, and brain microstructure. Additionally, Mendelian randomization analysis was performed to establish causal relationships using genetic data.

The results indicated that high BMI is causally linked to smaller gray matter volume and increased fractional anisotropy in certain brain regions, highlighting the importance of maintaining a healthy BMI throughout adulthood to preserve brain health.

“This research provides crucial insights into the relationship between BMI and brain health, emphasizing the need for public health strategies to control BMI for better neurological outcomes,” concluded Associate Professor Han Lv. “Future studies should focus on acquiring longitudinal neuroimaging data to further explore these associations.”

Reference: “Association between Body Mass Index and Brain Health in Adults: A 16-Year Population-Based Cohort and Mendelian Randomization Study” by Han Lv, Na Zeng, Mengyi Li, Jing Sun, Ning Wu, Mingze Xu, Qian Chen, Xinyu Zhao, Shuohua Chen, Wenjuan Liu, Xiaoshuai Li, Pengfei Zhao, Max Wintermark, Ying Hui, Jing Li, Shouling Wu and Zhenchang Wang, 15 March 2024, Health Data Science.
DOI: 10.34133/hds.0087

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