Metabolic Syndrome Affects Teens' Cognitive Performance

Metabolic Syndrome Affects Teens' Cognitive Performance
Metabolic Syndrome Affects Teens' Cognitive Performance

Researchers have found a possible link between lower cognitive performance and changes in the brain's structural integrity among adolescents with metabolic syndrome (MetS), according to an online report in Pediatrics.

Po Lai Yau, PhD, of New York University, and colleagues conducted endocrine, magnetic resonance imaging, and neuropsychological assessments in 49 and 62 adolescents with and without MetS, respectively, who were matched for age, socioeconomic status, school grade, gender, and ethnicity.

The researchers found that adolescents with MetS exhibited a trend for lower overall intelligence, as well as significantly lower academic achievement (arithmetic and spelling), measures of attention, and mental flexibility. In a MetS-dose-related manner they also had increased brain cerebrospinal fluid, smaller hippocampal volumes, and reductions of microstructural integrity in major white matter tracts.

"We document lower cognitive performance and reductions in brain structural integrity among adolescents with MetS, thus suggesting that even relatively short-term impairments in metabolism, in the absence of clinically manifest vascular disease, may give rise to brain complications," the researchers wrote. "In view of these alarming results, it is plausible that obesity-associated metabolic disease, short of type 2 diabetes mellitus, may be mechanistically linked to lower the academic and professional potential of adolescents."

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