Man weighing HimselfIf you are middle-aged and your memory is giving up on you, then check your weight. A new study has shown that excess weight can actually sabotage your brain power.

The study compared mental abilities to body mass index (BMI)body mass index (BMI), a measurement of weight in relation to height used to define overweight and obesityobesity. A BMI of 25 or more indicates overweight, and 30 or more is obese.

Middle-aged adults with a high BMI scored lower on memory and other mental ability tests than did middle-aged adults with a healthier body mass index, says Maxime Cournot, MD, assistant professor of clinical epidemiology at Toulouse University School of Medicine in France.

What’s behind the link? “There are two strong hypotheses,” Cournot says. Since obesity can lead to heart and blood vessel disease, including hardening of the blood vessels or atherosclerosis, the brain’s blood vessels might be affected and not function as well.

Excess weight can also lead to poorer management of the body’s insulin, and that could be affecting brain cells as well.