Neuropsychological Functioning in Mid-life Treatment-Seeking Adults with Obesity: a Cross-sectional Study

Christina Prickett, Renerus Stolwyk, Paul O’Brien, Leah Brennan

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of this study is to compare cognitive functioning between treatment-seeking individuals with obesity and healthy-weight adults. Design and Methods: Sixty-nine bariatric surgery candidates (BMI > 30 kg/m2) and 65 healthy-weight control participants (BMI 18.5–25 kg/m2) completed a neuropsychological battery and a self-report psychosocial questionnaire battery. Results: Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that obesity was predictive of poorer performance in the domains of psychomotor speed (p = .043), verbal learning (p < .001), verbal memory (p = .002), complex attention (p = .002), semantic verbal fluency (p = .009), working memory (p = .002), and concept formation and set-shifting (p = .003), independent of education. Obesity remained a significant predictor of performance in each of these domains, except verbal memory, following control for obesity-related comorbidities. Obesity was not predictive of visual construction, visual memory, phonemic verbal fluency or inhibition performance. Individuals with obesity also had significantly poorer decision-making compared to healthy-weight controls. Conclusions: Findings support the contribution of obesity to selective aspects of mid-life cognition after controlling for obesity-related comorbidities, while addressing limitations of previous research including employment of an adequate sample, a healthy-weight control group and stringent exclusion criteria. Further investigation into the functional impact of such deficits, the mechanisms underlying these poorer cognitive outcomes and the impact of weight-loss on cognition is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-540
Number of pages9
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Body mass index
  • Cognition
  • CVD risk factors
  • Executive function
  • Obesity

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