An alarming new study using MRI scans have detected brain damage in obese teens. This may be due to the inflammation in the brain. The findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Some studies suggest obesity can cause inflammation in the nervous system, which can be damaging for certain areas of the brain. A technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can help monitor the diffusion of water along the white matter tracts. This has helped researchers better understand the direct damaged caused to the brain.
For the study, the team compared data from the DTI results in 59 obese adolescents to the data from 61 healthy adolescents. The information from DTI helped researchers measure fractional anisotropy (FA). When there is a reduction in FA, it can increase damage in the white matter.
"Brain changes found in obese adolescents related to important regions responsible for control of appetite, emotions and cognitive functions," study co-author Pamela Bertolazzi, a biomedical scientist and Ph.D. student from the University of São Paulo in Brazil, told a news portal.
When the condition of white matter worsens it could have an impact on insulin levels and blood sugar levels. "Our maps showed a positive correlation between brain changes and hormones such as leptin and insulin," Dr Bertolazzi told a news portal. Adding, "Furthermore, we found a positive association with inflammatory markers, which leads us to believe in a process of neuroinflammation besides insulin and leptin resistance."
The team wants to further investigate the link to find out if inflammation in young obese people is due to the structural changes in the brain. "In the future, we would like to repeat brain MRI in these adolescents after multi-professional treatment for weight loss to assess if the brain changes are reversible or not," Dr Bertolazzi told a news portal.
Obesity in young people has become a public health issue across the globe. A study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found obesity could cause fat accumulation in the lungs. "Our research team studies the structure of the airways within our lungs and how these are altered in people with respiratory disease,"study author John Elliot, a senior research officer at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, told a news portal. Adding, "Looking at samples of lung, we spotted fatty tissue that had built up in the airway walls. We wanted to see if this accumulation was correlated with body weight."
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