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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Jan;16(1):119-24. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.4.

Relationship between body mass index and gray matter volume in 1,428 healthy individuals.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine and Radiology, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer (IDAC), Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.



To investigate any correlation between BMI and brain gray matter volume, we analyzed 1,428 healthy Japanese subjects by applying volumetric analysis and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) using brain magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, which enables a global analysis of brain structure without a priori identification of a region of interest.


We collected brain MR images from 690 men and 738 women, and their height, weight, and other clinical information. The collected images were automatically normalized into a common standard space for an objective assessment of neuroanatomical correlations in volumetric analysis and VBM with BMI.


Volumetric analysis revealed a significant negative correlation in men (P < 0.001, adjusting for age, lifetime alcohol intake, history of hypertension, and diabetes mellitus), although not in women, between BMI and the gray matter ratio, which represents the percentage of gray matter volume in the intracranial volume. VBM revealed that, in men, the regional gray matter volume of the bilateral medial temporal lobes, anterior lobe of the cerebellum, occipital lobe, frontal lobe, precuneus, and midbrain showed significant negative correlations with BMI, while those of the bilateral inferior frontal gyri, posterior lobe of the cerebellum, frontal lobes, temporal lobes, thalami, and caudate heads showed significant positive correlations with BMI.


Global loss and regional alterations in gray matter volume occur in obese male subjects, suggesting that male subjects with a high BMI are at greater risk for future declines in cognition or other brain functions.

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