Extra pounds may signal the brain to eat more.
Although the association between weight and brain dysfunction is not a new discovery, new research is suggesting your extra pounds may be causing episodic memory loss, and that may be leading to overeating and more weight gain, according to a UPI report.
The research team stopped short of saying that overweight people are more forgetful, but the influence of the extra weight on the brain’s ability to form complete memories of earlier meals may be causing you to consume an extra portion or snack.
Dr. Lucy Cheke, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, said in a press release, “It is possible that becoming overweight may make it harder to keep track of what and how much you have eaten, potentially making you more likely to overeat. The possibility that there may be episodic memory deficits in overweight individuals is of concern, especially given the growing evidence that episodic memory may have a considerable influence on feeding behavior and appetite regulation.”
Dr. Cheke added, “How vividly we remember a recent meal, for example today’s lunch, can make a difference to how hungry we feel and how much we are likely to reach out for that tasty chocolate bar later on.”
The study involved 50 participants between the ages of 18 and 35, with 26 of those subjects having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 25, and 24 with a BMI over 25. A BMI over 30 is generally considered obese. The participants were given a treasure hunt test on a computer in which they hid a number of items, and a follow-up test two days later in which they tried to remember where they had hidden the items.
Overall the findings show that those with the higher BMI did not perform as well on the tasks as the participants with the lower BMI’s, but as the rate of difficulty increased, the level of performance remained the same. The research team looked at age, levels of education and gender separately, but did not see patterns that would lead them to predict differences in performance based on any of those characteristics, but did say each of those parameters could play a small role when considered along with BMI.
Dr. Cheke said, “Increasingly, we’re beginning to see that memory — especially episodic memory, the kind where you mentally relive a past event — is also important.”
The findings of the study can be found in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.