Intellectual impairment accompanies obese adolescents who have type 2 diabetes, according to a study reported earlier this year. When obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes were compared to other obese kids (matched for age, ethnicity and socioeconomic background), who did not have any prediabetic condition, the first group showed a marked difference in intellectual functioning.
Thus, it’s easy to rule out the social stigma of being obese, or a junk food diet, on the difference in cognitive abilities. The variable in this study was the type 2 diabetes. The study was conducted by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center. In addition to the diminished cognitive abilities that were discovered, the researchers also found subtle abnormalities in the brains of the obese adolescents with the type 2 diabetes. These abnormalities showed up via MRI.
“This is the first study that shows that children with type 2 diabetes have more cognitive dysfunction and brain abnormalities than equally obese children who did not yet have marked metabolic dysregulation from their obesity, ” says Antonio Convit, MD. He continues, “The findings are significant because they indicate that insulin resistance from obesity is lowering children’s cognitive performance, which may be affecting their ability to perform well in school.” Dr. Convit is a professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center and the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research.
The study involved 18 adolescents with obesity and type 2 diabetes. This group had diminished performance in tests that measured their overall intellectual functions, and also spelling and memory. The brain abnormalities involved the white matter of the brain. Dr. Convit believes that these findings are indicative of the abnormal biochemistry that comes with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes used to be commonly referred to as adult onset diabetes, because it used to be rare in children. It’s now become so common among youth, that the condition is now referred to as just type 2 diabetes.
Risk factors for children developing this disease include obesity and overweight; lack of exercise; and a diet rich in white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, plus processed foods (which often contain high fructose corn syrup and white sugar). What you think is a healthy frozen dinner may actually contain these nasty ingredients.
It’s up to parents to take measures to prevent situations that can cause brain abnormalities and reduction in intellectual performance in their kids: Limit sugary and processed foods; mandate daily exercise; limit TV and computer time; set an example by being physically active yourself.
Source: online journal Diabetologia, July 30, 2010