The scary link between BMI and your brain

I was a very heavy child—and later, a very heavy teen. It’s one of the reasons why childhood obesity is such an important, personal issue to me. (It’s also why I wrote my first book, Feed Your Kids Well. 

Healthy relationships with food start when we are children. Our eating habits take root at a tender age. And the impact is lasting, in more ways than one.  

The fact is, it’s never too early to start teaching your children or grandchildren the vital importance of good nutrition, regular exercise, and weight management. And the study I want to share with you today offers an eye-opening reason as to why… 

Double the rate of cognitive decline 

A new study linked increases in heart disease risk factors during young adulthood with higher rates of cognitive decline later in life. 

Using findings from previous research on heart disease risk and cognitive decline, these researchers focused on a handful of key factors: body mass index (BMI), fasting blood sugar, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol. 

They found that high BMI, high systolic blood pressure, and high blood sugar in early adulthood—in this case, among subjects in their 20s and 30s—doubled the rate of cognitive decline over a decade-long period in late life.    

High BMI, specifically, was linked with a three- to four-point steeper decline in cognitive function over ten years. And high systolic blood pressure increased the rate of decline by a similarly high amount over the same period.   

It’s also worth noting that high cholesterol levels in early adulthood weren’t a significant risk factor for cognitive decline. The authors were shocked—but you know I wasn’t.  

After all, the brain is 80 percent fat. So when you strip your body of fat and cholesterol you deprive your brain of the one substance it needs to function.  

Early intervention is key 

Granted, these are just associations. And we can’t say for sure from this study alone whether stricter eating habits or healthier lifestyles can reduce the loss of memory and cognition as we age.  

But doesn’t it just make sense? And shouldn’t we all be paying close attention regardless? Call it a hasty conclusion, but I think you can guess where I stand.  

We know the brain is very dependent on blood flow for oxygen and nutrients. But guess what? High BMI, high systolic blood pressure, and high blood sugar in early adulthood all negatively affect that blood flowAnd the sooner that blood flow is compromised, the earlier the damage is going to start. Of course, in a clinical setting, radiologists use the term “white matter changes” to point out those types of abnormalities in brain imaging. But do you know what those “changes” really are?  

They’re parts of your brain that have been deprived of oxygen and have died. Which is unacceptable in my book—and highlights exactly why we all need to be taking this threat more seriously.   

But as usual, we’re left the authors saying we “need more research.”  

Looks like the more things change, the more they stay the same. So allow me to offer my advice. Make a few lasting lifestyle changes. Adopt a healthy, balanced diet—like my A-List Diet. Exercise regularly. And be mindful of how your weight may be influencing your health.  

For additional ways to help protect and restore your brain as you age, check out my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now 


“’Novel, Striking’ Data on Early-Life CVD Risk Factors and Late-Life Cognition.” Medscape Medical News, 04/14/2021. (