A recent study suggests that obese people have harder times in recalling past experiences than their slimmer peers. Nevertheless, their overall ability to remember general knowledge was not impacted by the excess weight.
The study, which involved 50 participants, showed that being obese triggered not only a plethora of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, but it also affected obese people’s ability to remember past events.
Researchers explained that poorer memory may reinforce overeating because people tend to forget how much food they had consumed at a previous meal.
The findings were published this week in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
The study results confirm past mouse studies that had revealed overweight is tied to poorer scores in memory tests designed for rodents. Nevertheless, no such link was found in humans until now.
The latest study tried to assess volunteers’ episodic memory, i.e. the ability to recall specific experiences in one’s past such as the voice of a beloved person or the smell of a garden rose.
Scientists put to test 50 people. Some of the participants had a normal weight, while some were deemed ‘very obese’ based on their body mass index (BMI). Volunteers were asked to play a brain game on a computer and try to hide different objects at different times in various contexts.
Next, they were given a test to remember what object they had hidden, at what specific time, and in what context. Scores of the obese group were 15 percent lower than the thin group.
Prof Lucy Cheke, lead author of the study and researcher with the University of Cambridge, recently told reporters that a high BMI is not associated with complete blankness or amnesia. Obese people seem to have less ‘vivid’ memories of their past experiences.
Cheke is concerned that a less vivid remembrance of what you had eaten several hours ago may make you more prone to overeat later on that day. Researchers noted that not only hunger hormones trigger satiety cues, but also a vivid memory.
Past studies had revealed that people who watch TV while they consume foods tend to eat a lot more than people who are having a meal without a screen in their faces. Plus, past research had also found that people with amnesia tend to eat or feel hungrier sooner than people not affected by the condition.
Image Source: Flickr