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.