'Obese children have a thinner region of their brain which is important for decision-making, according to a study.
Brain scans of 3,000 nine and 10-year-olds revealed children who weigh too much for their height tend to have a thinner prefrontal cortex.
The prefrontal cortex is part of the brain's outer layer and plays an 'integral' role in a person's ability to plan and control their behaviour.
Overweight children in the study performed worse on tests which involved sorting through lists, which scientists suggested was because of this thinning.
They said the findings may indicate a catch-22 situation for overweight children.
Obesity may be responsible for the smaller brain region, they said, but the smaller prefrontal cortex could also make the children less likely to decide to eat healthily.
But the team were not able to prove whether obesity caused the thinner cortex, nor whether the opposite was true.
The University of Vermont team also recorded how the children’s BMI compared to peers of the same gender and age.
For example, children in the bottom five per cent are considered underweight. While those in the top 15 per cent are deemed overweight.
Results showed those with higher BMIs tended to have a thinner cortex, the outer layer of the brain where most information is processed.
Eighteen different regions of the cortex – including the prefrontal cortex – were thinner in overweight children. Results did not specify how much thinner the brain region was.
Youngsters were also asked to perform four different tasks, including one which involved sorting cards and another a list of words.'
Read more: Obese children have a thinner region of their brain which controls decision-making as scientists warn it may 'make them less likely to say no to junk food'
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