Research on brain development has found out that children with obesity have reduced brain regions, which regulate planning, and impulse control. The study has succeeded to establish a link between obesity and brain function. The lead author of the study Jennifer Laurent has said that the higher body mass index reduces cortical areas. The children, who have been evaluated in the study, have performed poorly on games designed to test their certain skills. However, these brain differences are not linked to intelligence. Rising body mass index contributes to the reduction of all the cortical areas especially the prefrontal cortex. Children with shrunk prefrontal cortex have shown poor working memory, which is linked to decision making.
The research has included 3190 Children in the age group of 9 to 10 years across the US. They have been observed on the basis of their height, MRI brain scans, and weight measurements. They have been examined through a computer-based test of mental function, impulse control, memory, language, and reasoning. Around 1000 children evaluated during the study were overweight or obese. Researchers have found slightly less volume in the prefrontal cortex in the brain scan of overweight children. Brain region behind the forehead, which is known as the prefrontal cortex, is responsible for controlling execution function. Obese children have performed badly on the computer-based test as well. At the same time, normal-weight children performed better than overweight kids.
It is uncertain whether all these brain differences will have any impact on the academic performance of obese children or not. Researchers have claimed that healthy nutrition and physical activity also play a bigger role in brain development. Different research on adults has associated obesity with low-level inflammation through the body, which can hamper blood vessels and cause heart diseases. The study has been funded by the federal government. It has been published in Jama Pediatrics. Jennifer Laurent’s study has also said that the effects of inflammatory changes in the body, which can impact brain structure and function, might start from childhood as well.