Issue 48 October 2012
3. Childhood Obesity reduces Brain Development

Childhood obesity has been linked to onset of metabolic syndrome and metabolic syndrome is a combination of risk factors or symptoms that are linked to conditions such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease. According to researcher Antonio Convit, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at NYU School of Medicine, children with metabolic syndrome scored 10 percent lower on mental tasks associated with learning when compared to other children not at risk or suffering from metabolic syndrome.

Convit stated that, "We are seeing brain changes in kids with metabolic syndrome and we don't know if this is reversible." He points out there has not been enough research into what happens to the brain before diabetes onset in children.
For the research, more than 100 teenagers were assessed. Forty-nine of those children had metabolic syndrome risk factors, compared to 62 participants without those risks. The research demonstrated the more risk factors a child had, the more drastic the changes seen in the brain.

Obese or overweight teenagers with metabolic syndrome showed physical changes to their brains as well as a lack of proficiency in the areas of math and reading.Convit added that, "Kids who are struggling with their weight and moving toward having MetS (metabolic syndrome) may have lower grades, which could ultimately lead to lower professional achievement in the long run."

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