(NewsNation) — A recent study found that obesity can have an effect on the brain that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
The study compared obese patients to a control group and found that brain atrophy in those who were obese was similar to that of patients with Alzheimer’s. Obesity has already been linked to other chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and more.
The new findings come as there is an increased push to treat obesity as a disease, including new recommendations from the American Society of Pediatrics, which recommend earlier interventions for overweight kids and teens.
Dr. Dave Montgomery joined NewsNation to discuss the recent findings and how medical recommendations around obesity are changing.
“From 1980 to 2010, there was an almost threefold increase in the adult prevalence of obesity, and more than threefold in children,” he said.
But medical students receive little training about obesity and that lack of training, combined with social stigma, can leave them ill-equipped to treat patients.
“We spend about 10 hours on obesity, education and medical school, I probably spent 30,000 hours in medical school,” Montgomery said.
That training often focuses on encouraging patients to eat less and move more, instead of examining other factors that contribute to obesity, including genetics, brain chemistry, stress and other social factors.
“It’s not just a nutritional disease, calories in calories out. It’s a psycho-emotional disease. It’s not just a genetic disease. It’s a disease of addiction. And we don’t think about it in the same way we do as these other conditions that we could name in those categories,” Montgomery said.