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Teen Obesity Hinters Brain Function

Monday, 10 September 2012 11:29 AM

For the first time, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have tied obesity and metabolic syndrome to impaired brain function in adolescents.
New York University School of Medicine researchers who conducted the study called for pediatricians to take the findings into account when considering the early treatment of childhood obesity.
"The take home message is that just being overweight and obese is already impacting your brain," said Dr. Antonio Convit, who led the study, published online in the journal Pediatrics.
"Kids who are struggling with their weight and moving toward having [metabolic syndrome] may have lower grades, which could ultimately lead to lower professional achievement in the long run… It is imperative that we take obesity and physical activity seriously in children. In this country, we're taking away gym class in order to give children more class time in an effort to improve school performance, but that effort may be having the exact opposite effect."
Convit noted the rise in childhood obesity in the U.S. has been mirrored by an increase in metabolic syndrome – a constellation of three or more health problems, including abdominal obesity, low “good” HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and pre-diabetic insulin resistance.
He added that previous studies have tied metabolic syndrome to mental impairments in adults, but this association was generally thought to be a long-term effect of poor metabolism. The new research reveals even worse brain impairments in adolescents with metabolic syndrome.
For the study, the researchers compared 49 adolescents with metabolic syndrome to 62 teens without the condition. The results showed those with the syndrome had significantly lower math and spelling scores, as well as decreased attention span and mental flexibility. They also showed differences in brain structure and volume that may account for learning deficits.
"The kids with [metabolic syndrome] took longer to do tasks, could not read as well and had poorer math scores," Convit said. "These findings indicate that kids with [the syndrome] do not perform well on things that are very relevant to school performance."
Convit said additional research is needed to determine if weight loss can boost the brain power of obese adolescents with metabolic syndrome.

© HealthDay

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Researchers have tied obesity and metabolic syndrome to impaired brain function in adolescents.
Monday, 10 September 2012 11:29 AM
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