Early Obesity

Published: October 4 2006


New research shows that kids who are morbidly obese before the age of four often suffer from lower I-Q scores.

University of Florida researchers tested patients with early-onset morbid obesity or another obesity disorder called prader-willi syndrome. They compared scores to test results of normal weight siblings. Kids obese before age four had an average I-Q about twenty-eight points lower, a finding that surprised geneticist Dan Driscoll.

Driscoll: “It was surprising when we looked at the early-onset morbidly obese individuals that had no known reason for any cognitive impairment and we did extensive genetic testing – their I-Q came out to approximately 78 versus a sibling control of 106.”

Researchers also found that a number of study subjects also had brain lesions similar to the ones seen in Alzheimer’s patients.

Driscoll: “We certainly think that there’s a strong possibility that the metabolic, biochemical problems associated with obesity could be interfering with normal brain development.”

Researchers believe those who become obese later in childhood, or as adults, aren’t at risk for these cognitive impairments.

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