TUESDAY, April 23, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Obesity is associated with differences in gray matter volumes in the brain, according to a study published online April 23 in Radiology.

Ilona A. Dekkers, M.D., from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues examined associations between obesity and brain structure (overall and regional brain volumes and white matter microstructure) using magnetic resonance imaging. Individuals assessed included 12,087 participants of the prospective U.K. Biobank study (52.8 percent women; mean age, 62 years).

The researchers found that mean body mass index was 26.6 kg/m², mean total body fat (TBF) in men was 24.4 percent, and mean TBF in women was 35.5 percent. In men, there was a negative association between TBF and all subcortical gray matter volumes (thalamus, caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus, hippocampus, and nucleus accumbens) other than amygdala volume. However, in women, the negative association between TBF and gray matter volume was limited to globus pallidus volume. There was a positive association in both men and women between TBF and global fractional anisotropy. There was a negative association between TBF and global mean diffusivity in women.

“Obesity was associated with higher coherence but lower magnitude of white matter microstructure, which suggests differential influences of obesity on the geometric organization of white matter microstructure,” the authors write.

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