You more than likely know that if you are currently overweight that losing a few pounds offers a host of health benefits.
For example, weight loss can lead to lower cholesterol levels that in turn can lower the risk of encountering a stroke or heart attack.
One benefit you may not know about though, is that weight loss could improve your memory.
A recent study conducted by the Endocrine Society has found that obese women who lost weight had experienced significantly improved brain function that was essential for memory.
Previous research has already shown that obese people suffer from impaired episodic memory. This is the type of memory that allows us to place a name to a face.
Study author Andreas Pettersson, MD, a PhD student at Umea University, Sweden had this say about his findings:
“Our findings suggest that obesity-associated impairments in memory function are reversible, adding incentive for weight loss.”
What occurred in the study?
In the study, 20 overweight and post-menopausal women were asked to eat healthily over the course of 6-months.
The diets they were allowed were either the Paleo Diet or the Nordic Nutrition Diet.
Before the diet started each woman was weighed, their body fat percentage was recorded, as well as their BMI (Body Mass index) and memory abilities.
In particular, the episodic memory of each participant was tested. This involved testings the participants ability to memorise unknown pairs of faces and names shown on a screen (a process formally known as ‘encoding’).
The participants also underwent MRI’s, during which they were shown the facial images along with 3 letters. They were then asked to recall the first letter linked to the name linked to the appropriate head shot.
What were the results of the study?
At the start of the study, the average BMI of the female participants was 32.1. At the conclusion of the 6-month study the average BMI had dropped to 29.2, which put the average below the obesity cutoff of 30.
When their memory was tested the participants performed much better and the MRIs performed showed that their brain activity had increased in the regions important for identification and the matching of faces.
Dr. Pettersson had this to say about the results:
“The altered brain activity after weight loss suggests that the brain becomes more active while storing new memories and therefore needs fewer brain resources to recollect stored information.”
This study shows that not only are there plenty of health reasons to lose weight, but also psychological benefits too.