This Just In: Fat Makes Us Stupid

Not only will fat kill us, apparently now it will also make us stupid.

Neurologist Stefan Knecht of the University of Münster in Germany, who is not involved in the new research, says he is not surprised that the untreated participants experienced rapid, continuing drops in cognitive performance. Among the morbidly obese, he says, “You can actually watch them getting worse from one three-month period to the next if you have sufficiently sensitive measures, which [Gunstad’s group] did.”

This study is mind-boggling on many fronts.

The most glaring is the lack of mention of the possibility that both obesity and a drop in cognitive performance might both be symptoms of some other medical issue.

Take me, for instance. One of the most startling and upsetting symptoms of being gluten intolerant for me was losing words. When I’m eating a lot of gluten, I start to get black holes were words should be. I have to do things like say “you know, your dad’s mom” when I really mean “your grandma” because the word “grandma” has exited my cranium. That, my friends, is not fun. In fact it’s really scary.

If for no other reason, I’m a writer. I need those words.

Gluten intolerance also affects my ability to absorb nutrients. My body doesn’t get the signal properly that I’m full when I’m eating gluten. It also has made me more tired than it’s possible to describe, making any kind of dedicated exercise nearly impossible. As a result, over the course of many years, I’m fat.

Giving up gluten has both given me back all the words and over time healing my digestive system so that I can be in better touch with my body’s hunger signals.

In my case, both obesity and cognitive performance problems stem from a medical condition.

Other conditions could present the same way. Depression and alcoholism come to mind. The danger of deciding that the correlation between obesity and cognitive performance problems is actually a causation, is that when a fat person presents with memory loss, for instance, her doctor will now one more reason not be look beyond her body size for a diagnosis.

Back to the article, there is also the glaring lack of control group information. There is no comparison in the article between cognitive performance problems in people who are fat and those who have never been fat. They also used people who were on the verge of WLS as most of their subjects. Could facing potentially deadly major surgery impair a person’s cognitive performance? Would their cognitive performance improve again once they’d survived and that stress is gone? These questions aren’t addressed in the article. I’m not sure if they were addressed in the study, but I would bet not.

I find it criminal when scientists use their big brains for evil instead of good.

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9 Comments

Filed under mind, spirit

9 responses to “This Just In: Fat Makes Us Stupid

  1. Dee

    Stupid? Apparently those scientists haven’t read the fatosphere.

  2. This is ridiculous! I highly doubt that the research is reliable or valid. It’s just one more stigma to put on someone who struggles with his/her weight. I’ve dealt with the “lazy” thing for years and pretty much shock the hell out of people when they see me run circles around others who are half my size. Now they want people to assume that fat equals stupid? Unbelievable.

    Just as another example of other health issues affecting both cognitive ability and weight . . . my boyfriend has severe sleep apnea. The sleep apnea makes the weight issue worse, which in turn makes the sleep apnea worse . . . and on and on. Sometimes he’s so bad that he can’t finish a coherent thought because he can barely keep himself awake. He is an extremely intellegent man whose cognitive functioning is sometimes diminished by the fact that his body hasn’t had enough rest.

    People eat a lot of ice cream in the summer time. People wear less clothes in the summer time. Therefore, eating ice cream makes people overheat so they have to wear less clothes.

  3. I sounded really stupid when all I talked about was what diet I was going to go on to lose the weight. How much I had eaten that day and how blasted hungry I was all the time. Hey sometimes I’m not the brightest crayon in the box…but if I had any more brain cells I’d be high voltage. Even God took a day off. I’m sorry I can’t help myself “WINNING!!!!”

  4. Hanlie

    I found your blog through your comment to Joy Tanksley on Facebook.

    I’m recovering from severe adrenal exhaustion and one of the worst aspects of adrenal exhaustion for me was the loss of cognitive function. My mind simply would not work properly, I had memory lapses and I couldn’t concentrate or focus. The fact that I’m obese is purely coincidental once again, because usually I’m as sharp as a tack!

    Great blog! I love what you’re doing here!

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