Obesity rates are increasing worldwide and are becoming especially pronounced in developed Western countries. While the consequences of obesity on metabolic and cardiovascular physiology are well established, epidemiological and experimental data are beginning to establish that the central nervous system, and the brain in particular, may also be damaged by obesity and obesity-induced changes in metabolic physiology. These emerging data show that obese individuals have impaired cognitive processing compared with lean persons, are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of brain injury, and are more likely to develop dementia as they age. This entry will describe findings from human and animal studies and will summarize current theories of how obesity adversely affects the brain. Overall, data suggest that obesity-induced alterations in metabolism may synergize with ...

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