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. 2015 Oct;93:44-50.
doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.03.033. Epub 2015 Apr 2.

Obesity, Fitness, and Brain Integrity in Adolescence

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Free PMC article

Obesity, Fitness, and Brain Integrity in Adolescence

Naima Ross et al. Appetite. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Objective: We set out to ascertain the relationship between insulin resistance, fitness, and brain structure and function in adolescents.

Design and methods: We studied 79 obese and 51 non-obese participants who were recruited from the community, all without type 2 diabetes mellitus. All participants received medical, endocrine, neuropsychological, and MRI evaluations as well as a 6-minute walk test that was used to estimate fitness (maximal oxygen consumption).

Results: Obese adolescents had significantly thinner orbitofrontal cortices and performed significantly worse on Visual Working Memory tasks and the Digit Vigilance task. Insulin sensitivity and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) were both highly correlated with central obesity and orbitofrontal cortical thickness, although insulin sensitivity was the stronger predictor for orbitofrontal cortical thickness. We also found that VO2 max was the only significant physiological variable related to visual working memory.

Conclusions: This is the first study to report positive associations between insulin resistance, VO2 max, and frontal lobe brain integrity in adolescents. Given the importance of brain health for learning and school performance, we conclude that schools should also emphasize physical fitness in order to maintain structural and functional brain integrity and facilitate academic achievement.

Keywords: Adolescence; Fitness; Obesity; Orbitofrontal cortex; VO(2) max.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
A and C show the relationships between VO2 max and QUICKI values and VO2 max and WHR, respectively. B shows the relationship between WHR and QUICKI values. Metabolic Variables Relationships
Figure 2
Figure 2
A-C shows the relationships between orbitofrontal cortex thickness and the metabolic variables. Orbitofrontal Cortex Thickness and Metabolic Variables
Figure 3
Figure 3
A-C shows the relationships between Visual Working Memory Index Scores and the metabolic variables. Relationships between Visual Working Memory Index Score and Metabolic Variables

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