Important Brain Implications for Overweight in Diabetics
by David Perlmutter, M.D., Board-Certified Neurologist, #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author, Fellow of the American College of Nutrition
Scientific research clearly supports the relationship between overweight and obesity and less adequate control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetics. This is the reason why health care providers are focused on helping their diabetic patients lose weight.
In addition, we’ve known for some time that both diabetes, as well as overweight and obesity, are independently associated with reductions in brain substance as well as cognitive decline.
But the burning question seems to be whether or not these two entities, diabetes and overweight, are additive. In other words, are the brain issues worse if a person has both problems?
To study this question, researchers in South Korea studied 50 overweight/obese individuals with type 2 diabetes, 50 normal weight individuals with type 2 diabetes, and 50 participants without weight issues or diabetes. The participants underwent evaluation of their cognitive function, close measurement of their blood sugars and MRI evaluations to study the structure of their brains.
What the researchers found was truly profound. They noted significant brain changes with thinning of the brain’s cortex and disruption of the deep white matter, as well as a reduction in brain functionality, even in the early stages of type 2 diabetes when overweight/obese was present. The authors concluded:
“An increased awareness of overweight/obesity-related risk is necessary to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes-related brain atrophy and cognitive dysfunction from early stage type 2 diabetes onward.”
So, while it is a well-accepted notion that diabetics who are overweight/obese can improve their blood sugar control by losing weight, the relationship between diabetes and overweight/obesity to brain shrinkage and reduced functionality that these researchers discovered, makes weight control an even more important goal.