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Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 May;36(5):656-64. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2011.175. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

Relation of regional gray and white matter volumes to current BMI and future increases in BMI: a prospective MRI study.

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Oregon Research Institute, 1715 Franklin Boulevard, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.



This study tested whether global and regional brain volumes correlated with body mass index (BMI) and increases in BMI over 1-year follow-up.


A total of 83 young females (M age=18.4, s.d.=2.8; BMI range=17.3-38.9) were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging. Voxel-based morphometry was used to assess global brain volume and regional gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volumes in regions implicated in taste, reward and inhibitory control.


Obese participants had less total GM volume than lean and overweight participants. Obese participants had lower total WM volume than overweight participants. BMI correlated with higher WM volumes in the middle temporal gyrus, fusiform gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, Rolandic operculum and dorsal striatum. Trend-level reduced GM volumes in the superior frontal gyrus and middle frontal gyrus were related to increases in BMI over 1-year follow-up.


Findings suggest that BMI is related to global and regional differences in brain matter volume in female adolescents. Most importantly, findings suggest that low GM volume in regions implicated in inhibitory control are related to future weight gain. Results taken in conjunction with prior findings suggest that abnormalities in regional GM volumes, but not WM volumes, increase the risk for future weight gain and abnormalities in regional WM volumes, but not GM volumes, are secondary to weight gain.

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