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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2017, Article ID 5923862, 11 pages
Research Article

Relationship between Obesity and Cognitive Function in Young Women: The Food, Mood and Mind Study

1Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia
2School of Human Movement Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
3Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia
4Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia
5Metabolism and Obesity Services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, NSW, Australia
6Nutraceuticals Research Program, School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

Correspondence should be addressed to Helen T. O’Connor; ua.ude.yendys@ronnoco.neleh

Received 9 February 2017; Revised 11 June 2017; Accepted 9 August 2017; Published 8 October 2017

Academic Editor: David H. St-Pierre

Copyright © 2017 Rebecca L. Cook et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Limited research addresses links between obesity and cognitive function in young adults. Objective. To investigate the relationship between obesity and cognitive function in young women. Methods. This cross-sectional study recruited healthy, young (18–35 y) women of normal (NW: BMI = 18.5–24.9 kg·m−2) or obese (OB: BMI ≥ 30.0 kg·m−2) weight. Participants completed a validated, computer-based cognitive testing battery evaluating impulsivity, attention, information processing, memory, and executive function. Questionnaires on depression and physical activity and a fasting blood sample for C-reactive protein and the Omega-3 Index were also collected. Cognition data are presented as z-scores (mean ± SD), and group comparisons were assessed via ANOVA. Potential confounding from questionnaire and blood variables were evaluated using ANCOVA. Results. 299 women (NW: n = 157; OB: n = 142) aged 25.8 ± 5.1 y were enrolled. Cognition scores were within normal range (±1 z-score), but OB had lower attention (NW: 0.31 ± 1.38; OB: −0.25 ± 1.39; ES: 0.41, CI: 0.17–0.64; ) and higher impulsivity (NW: 0.36 ± 1.14; OB: −0.07 ± 1.07; ES: 0.39, CI: 0.15–0.62; ). Confounder adjustment had minimal impact on results. Conclusion. The OB group had normal but significantly lower performance on attention and were more impulsive compared to NW participants. This may indicate early cognitive decline, but longitudinal research confirming these findings is warranted.