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Differences in adolescent cerebral perfusion as a function of obesity: Results from the FLEX‐Brain study

Aghjayan, S.L., Stillman, C.M., El Nokali, N.E., Watt, J.C., Richards, E.A., Bertocci, M.A., Erickson, K.I. and Rofey, D.L. (2021) Differences in adolescent cerebral perfusion as a function of obesity: Results from the FLEX‐Brain study. Obesity, 29 (7). pp. 1171-1177.

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Children and adolescents have greater resting cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during periods of rapid brain growth. Overweight and obesity have a global impact on brain cerebrovascular health in adults, but whether these effects are discernable in adolescents with overweight and obesity remains unknown. This study examined differences in rCBF between adolescents with a healthy weight (HW) and adolescents with overweight or obesity (OW).


The current study focused on analyzing data from 58 participants (mean age = 15.43 [SD 1.37] years). Participants were classified into OW (n = 38) and HW groups (n = 20) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for children. Voxelwise t tests between the HW and OW groups were conducted to test for regional group differences in rCBF, controlling for age and sex. Mean rCBF was extracted from a gray matter mask to compare global rCBF between the HW and OW groups.


The HW group had greater rCBF compared with the OW group in five clusters, with peaks in the cerebellum, precentral gyrus, and supplementary motor area. No clusters survived correction for the OW > HW contrast. Global rCBF did not significantly differ between the groups (p = 0.09).


These results suggest that overweight and obesity in adolescence are associated with discernable reductions in blood flow to specific brain regions rather than having a global impact on rCBF.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: © 2021 The Obesity Society
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