Does Losing Weight Improve Your Memory?

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The benefits of weight loss are seemingly endless. Those with a healthy body weight are less likely to die a heart attack or suffer a stroke. They have overall lower blood pressure and are at a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease. However, according to a new study there’s a new benefit to add to the list: improved memory.

"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," said John Gunstad, an assistant professor of psychology at Kent State University. "If excess weight causes these problems, can losing weight help reverse them? That's what we wanted to research."

To test this hypothesis, Gunstand and a team of researchers tested the memory and attention span of 150 overweight men and women. A few of these individuals then had gastric bypass surgery so researchers performed more tests after the surgery.

The results?

The participants who had surgery showed improvements in memory just 12 weeks after the procedure, testing either average or above average in all cognitive tests.

"They 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,” Gunstand noted.
Men and women who did not undergo surgery did not show any remarkable improvement in memory after the second tests.

So is there any hope for people who aren’t eligible for gastric bypass surgery or can’t afford it? Perhaps. Though nothing is certain, Gunstand believes men and women who lose 20 – 25 pounds might enjoy improved memory and concentration skills.

ABC News

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