UTA Logo Obese individuals often report impairment in insulin sensitivity. Psychologists from The University of Texas at Austin suggest that damaged insulin sensitivity among obese adults sheds light on different brain responses than normal-weight individuals. It was ascertained that a healthy lifestyle at midlife can improve quality of life. Apparently insulin sensitivity can be changed through diet and exercise.

The study comprised adults between 40 and 60 years of age who were made to complete a challenging cognitive task while undergoing fMRI. Scientists aimed to determine whether midlife obesity is associated with higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia in old age. Obese, overweight as well as normal-weight participants supposedly performed equally well on the task. But it was noted that obese individuals probably have lower functional brain response in the inferior parietal lobe region of the brain.

Professor Andreana Haley, alleged, “Generally, very few people study the middle-aged segment of the population, but that’s when many chronic diseases are first identified and neurodegenerative processes are triggered. We found that while behavioral performance of obese middle-aged individuals may be the same — they can complete the same cognitive tasks as normal weight individuals — their brain is already doing something different to produce that outcome.”

Also, reduced insulin sensitivity was observed in obese volunteers as compared to normal weight and overweight participants. In obese subjects glucose was possibly broken down less efficiently. It is known that reduced insulin sensitivity triggers insulin sensitivity in case, pancreas are incapable of secreting appropriate insulin to compensate for declined glucose use. Impaired insulin sensitivity may usually come along with obesity and be a mediator between midlife obesity and cognitive decline later on. A follow up study will be undertaken to assert whether 12-week exercise intervention can reverse the observed variations in brain response.

The study is published in the journal Obesity.