Differences in Brain Volume between Metabolically Healthy and Unhealthy Overweight and Obese Children: The Role of Fitness

Cristina Cadenas-sanchez, Irene Esteban-cornejo, Jairo H. Migueles, Idoia Labayen, Juan Verdejo-román, Jose Mora-gonzalez, Pontus Henriksson, José Maldonado, José Gómez-vida, Charles H. Hillman, Kirk I. Erickson, Arthur F. Kramer, Andrés Catena, Francisco B. Ortega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine whether metabolically healthy overweight/obese children have greater global and regional gray matter volumes than their metabolically unhealthy peers. We further examined the association between gray matter volume and academic achievement, along with the role of cardiorespiratory fitness in these associations. A total of 97 overweight/obese children (10.0 ± 1.2 years) participated. We classified children as metabolically healthy/unhealthy based on metabolic syndrome cut-offs. Global and regional brain volumes were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging. Academic achievement was assessed using the Woodcock-Muñoz standardized test. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed by the 20 m shuttle run test. Metabolically healthy overweight/obese (MHO) children had greater regional gray matter volume compared to those who were metabolically unhealthy (MUO) (all p ≤ 0.001). A similar trend was observed for global gray matter volume (p = 0.06). Global gray matter volume was positively related to academic achievement (β = 0.237, p = 0.036). However, all the associations were attenuated or disappeared after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness (p > 0.05). The findings of the present study support that metabolically healthy overweight/obese children have greater gray matter volume compared to those that are metabolically unhealthy, which is in turn related to better academic achievement. However, cardiorespiratory fitness seems to explain, at least partially, these findings.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1059
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 8 2020

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