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Weight gain could have negative repercussions on our brain, a new study has suggested while also revealing that higher body mass index, or BMI, can negatively impact cognitive functioning in older adults.

Researchers at University of Arizona analysed data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, which includes over 12 years’ worth of information on the health, well-being and social and economic circumstances of the English population age 50 and older. Using two separate samples from the study one of about 9,000 people and one of about 12,500 researchers looked at ageing adults over a six year period.

Researchers revealed that higher BMI may lead to increased inflammation which can negatively impact brain function and cognition. They added that the higher participants’ body mass at the first time point in the study, the greater the change in their CRP levels over the next four years. CRP stands for C reactive protein, which is a marker in the blood of systemic inflammation in your body.

Change in CRP over four years then predicted change in cognition six years after the start of the study. The body mass of these people predicted their cognitive decline through their levels of systemic inflammation.

The findings support existing literature linking inflammation to cognitive decline and take it a step further by illuminating the important role of body mass in the equation.

Researchers are quick to point out that the findings provide a clear and integrative account of how BMI is associated with cognitive decline through systemic inflammation, but it needs to be remembered that these are only correlational findings.

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