Can Your Brain Size Determine Your Waist Size?

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MRI Scan Broccoli

Losing weight is hard. But it seems to be easier for some than for others. If medical professionals could identify the people who are likely to fail then they could offer these people more support. What if they could predict the people who would need extra help with a simple brain scan?

Brain Volume vs Waist Volume

An 18 month study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre suggests that brain volume may hold the key to predicting who will struggle with weight loss regimes. The researches performed MRI scans on 52 people ages between 60 and 79. All were either overweight or obese and had a history of either cardiovascular disease or metabolic syndrome.

The test participants were randomly divided into three groups. Each participant aimed to lose between 7 and 10 percent of body mass. The method used was determined by which group they were in. Group one was diet only. Group two was diet and aerobic exercise and group three was diet and resistance training.

A simple test that can predict intentional weight loss success using structural brain characteristics could ultimately be used to tailor treatment for patients,” Jonathan Burdette, co-author

Predicting Weight Loss

The researchers discovered that they could successfully predict who would lose weight in 78% of cases. Simply by studying brain scans. The MRI scans were better at predicting who would struggle irrespective of which group the person was in.

What does a diet-successful brain look like?

Grey matter volume was a better predictor than white matter. However, a combination of higher volumes of grey and white matter was the best indicator of  weight loss success.

Grey matter is the bit of the brain that we are familiar with. It comprises of neurons firing away helping us to think and interpret the world we inhabit. White matter was once thought of as useless but we have since learned that it provides the communication network by which areas of grey matter talks to each other and to other parts of the body.

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Why It Matters

If medical professionals can predict who will struggle with a weight-loss regime then they can tailor a better programme for that individual. Hence resources can be more efficiently used and more people will achieve their weight loss goal.

“[P]eople identified at high risk for failure might benefit from intensive treatment and close guidance. People identified as having a high probability for success might best respond to less intensive treatment,” Johnathan Burdette, MD

The researches acknowledge that the number of people studied was small and they recommend further research.

Further reading : How your food preferences may be affecting your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.


  • Wake Forest Baptist MC – Brain Volume Predicts Successful Weight Loss in the Elderly

  • Difference Between Grey And White Matter

Can Your Brain Size Determine Your Waist Size?
Article Name
Can Your Brain Size Determine Your Waist Size?
Can a simple brain scan determine how likely your attempts to lose weight will be? One study of overweight seniors suggests brain volume matters.
Dermot Barry
Can a simple brain scan determine how likely your attempts to lose weight will be?
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