Impulsivity and body fat accumulation are linked to cortical and subcortical brain volumes among adolescents and adults.
Obesity is associated not only with metabolic and physical health conditions, but with individual variations in cognition and brain health. This study examined the association between body fat (an index of excess weight severity), impulsivity (a vulnerability factor for obesity), and brain structure among adolescents and adults across the body mass index (BMI) spectrum. We used 3D T1 weighted anatomic magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the association between body fat and volumes in regions associated with obesity and impulsivity. Participants were 127 individuals (BMI: 18-40 kg/m2; M = 25.69 ± 5.15), aged 14 to 45 years (M = 24.79 ± 9.60; female = 64). Body fat was measured with bioelectric impendence technology, while impulsivity was measured with the UPPS-P Impulsive Behaviour Scale. Results showed that higher body fat was associated with larger cerebellar white matter, medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), and nucleus accumbens volume, although the latter finding was specific to adolescents. The relationship between body fat and medial OFC volume was moderated by impulsivity. Elevated impulsivity was also associated with smaller amygdala and larger frontal pole volumes. Our findings link vulnerability and severity markers of obesity with neuroanatomical measures of frontal, limbic and cerebellar structures, and unravel specific links between body fat and striatal volume in adolescence.
Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 22;9(1):2580. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-38846-7.