Monday, April 18, 2011

Weight Loss May Improve Your Memory

Losing weight not only provides a variety of health benefits, but may also help sharpen your memory. These are the findings of new research from Kent State University recently published in the journalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.
John Gunstad, an Assistant Professor of psychology and lead author of the study, reported that results of the research indicate that weight loss may improve concentration and overall cognitive ability. He pointed out, “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.” Gunstad then explained that his research team set out to answer the question, “If excess weight causes these problems, can losing weight help reverse them?”
For their study, the researchers analyzed the memory and attention of a group of 150 obese people having an average weight of 300 pounds. At the beginning of the study, each member of the group was given mental skills testing for assessment of baseline abilities of recall and attention. Following the assesment, a number of the study subjects underwent gastric bypass surgery for weight loss, while others did not. After a period of 12 weeks, mental skills testing was once again performed on each participant.
Prior to the weight loss surgery, 23.9 percent of all the participants exhibited impaired learning, and 22.9 percent had poor recognition memory. However, twelve weeks after the surgical procedures and an average weight loss of about 50 pounds, cognitive tests revealed that on average, performance for those underwent the procedure was within or above average range. Among those who did not opt for gastric bypass surgery, no improvements were seen. In fact, findings revealed that the non-surgery group had expereinced a gradual decline in memory over the 12-week period.