The association between body mass index and brain morphology in children: a population-based study

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Abstract

Brain morphology is altered in both anorexia nervosa and obesity. However, it is yet unclear if the relationship between Body Mass Index-Standard Deviation Score (BMI-SDS) and brain morphology exists across the BMI-SDS spectrum, or is present only in the extremes. The study involved 3160 9-to-11 year-old children (50.3% female) who participate in Generation R, a population-based study. Structural MRI scans were obtained from all children and FreeSurfer was used to quantify both global and surface-based measures of gyrification and cortical thickness. Body length and weight were measured to calculate BMI. Dutch growth curves were used to calculate BMI-SDS. BMI-SDS was analyzed continuously and in two categories (median split). The relationship between BMI-SDS (range − 3.82 to 3.31) and gyrification showed an inverted-U shape curve in children with both lower and higher BMI-SDS values having lower gyrification in widespread areas of the brain. BMI-SDS had a positive linear association with cortical thickness in multiple brain regions. This study provides evidence for an association between BMI-SDS and brain morphology in a large sample of children from the general population and suggests that a normal BMI during childhood is important for brain development. Future studies could determine whether lifestyle modifications optimize BMI-SDS result in return to more typical patterns of brain morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-800
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Structure & Function
Volume226
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Sophia Children’s Hospital Foundation (SSWO) (Grant numbers: S15-13, S18-68, S20-48) and the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) TOP project number 91211021. The general design of Generation R Study is made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, ZonMw, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

Funding Information:
The general design of Generation R Study is made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, ZonMw, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, and is conducted by the Erasmus Medical Center in close collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the Stichting Trombosedienst & Artsenlaboratorium Rijnmond (STAR-MDC), Rotterdam

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

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