[Edit: My view here has changed, read my recent article Is Diet an IQ Test? It isn’t and it is, of course, much more nuanced than ‘IQ’ (which is a proxy for social class’ leading to obesity which would imply lack of funds and education on what and when to eat. Obesity is much more complex than ‘IQ’, numerous other variables come into play and since ‘IQ’ (which is just a proxy for general knowledge ‘is low then the individual in question won’t know what and when to eat and since this occurs in low income families more often than not who have low IQs then this effects them the most.]
The relationship between intelligence and obesity is often misinterpreted. Numerous studies have concluded that becoming obese leads to a drop in IQ. This mistake happens due to improper interpretation of cross-sectional studies. However, analyses of population-based, longitudinal data show that low intelligence from birth causes obesity. No credible evidence exists for obesity lowering intelligence. There are, however, mountains of evidence showing that low intelligence from childhood leads to obesity (Kanazawa, 2014).
Kanazawa (2014), reviewed the data on the research between obesity and IQ. What he found was that those studies that concluded that obesity causes lowered intelligence only observed cross-sectional studies. Longitudinal studies that looked into the link between obesity and intelligence found that those who had low IQs since childhood then became obese later in life and that obesity does not lead to low IQ. Those with IQs below 74 gained 5.19 BMI points, whereas those with IQs over above 126 gained 3.73 BMI points in 22 years, which is a statistically significant difference. Also noted, was that those at age 7 who had IQs above 125 had a 13.5 percent chance of being obese at age 51, whereas those with IQs below 74 at age 7 had a 31.9 percent chance of being obese. This data makes it clear: low IQ is correlated with obesity, so we, therefore, need to find sufficient measures to help those with lower IQs to learn how to manage their weight. Moreover, the lack of ability to delay gratification is also correlated with low IQ (Mischel, Ebbeson, and Zeiss, 1972).
Less intelligent individuals are more likely to become obese than those who are more intelligent. With what we know about low IQ people and how there is a strong relationship between low intelligence and lack of ability to delay gratification, we can see how this lack of thought for future problems for their actions in the present can manifest itself in obesity.
This study claims that there is a link between morbid obesity and a drop in IQ. The researchers compared 24 children who weighed 150 percent of their bodyweight before age 4 with 19 children and adults with Prader Willi’s Syndrome, using 24 siblings as controls as “they share the same socioeconomic environment and genetics”. Prader Willi’s Syndrome (PWS) is a chromosomal disorder in which chromosome 15 is deleted. They have an almost insatiable desire to eat,which can cause one suffering from PWS to eat themselves to death. Those with PWS were found to have an IQ of 63, while those who became obese were found to have an IQ of 78 with the control siblings having an IQ of 106. The researchers were surprised to see such a difference in IQ between siblings. They then state that this could be one facet of obesity that could be irreversible. MRI scans of the cohort discovered white matter lesions on the subjects with PWS and early-onset obesity. The researcher says that these lesions could affect food seeking centers in the brain leading to a want to gorge on food. Seeing how those with PWS eat when unsupervised, this is an interesting hypothesis.
This study compared 49 teens with metabolic syndrome and 62 peers without the disorder, while controlling for socioeconomics status. They found significantly lower scores in arithmetic, attention and attention span, spelling, mental flexibility and regions of the brain with lower volumes of matter in the hippocampus and white matter integrity.
There are a few problems with these two studies. In a population-representative birth cohort study of 1037 children, it was found that cohort members who became obese had a low IQ, as expected. But, contrary to what your study said, cohort members didn’t exhibit a decline in IQ from becoming obese, they instead had a lower IQ since childhood. There is no evidence of obesity contributing to a decline in IQ, even in obese individuals and those on the verge of metabolic syndrome. Another problem is that they wrongly conclude that obesity leads to lowered intelligence, completely misinterpreting the extremely strong negative correlation between obesity and intelligence.
This study shows how obese mothers give birth to less intelligent children. In an observational study (already garbage), the researchers took 3412 participants and found a strong relationship with pre-pregnancy obesity and math and reading scores in children. For math, a 3 percent reduction was observed. There was a 3-point drop in reading scores with math scores showing a decline of 2 points. These differences are within the normal variation between tests, so it’s nothing to take note of. Also, this is an observational study. I have shown above that longitudinal studies are superior for this, as well as researchers misinterpreting the results found from their studies.
There is a strong relationship between parental years of education and childhood obesity. Since the mother’s IQ is the most important predictor of a child’s IQ *, that passes on to the child as well. (BMI is also 80 percent heritable). **.
So because of those factors involving the mother and child, that is what accounts for it. Not the environmental factors brought up.
This study claims that overweight parents are more likely to fail. This is all due to the fact that low IQ people are more likely to be obese or overweight, with heritability of BMI being .8, you can see how low IQ is the cause of both of those variables.
This shows that binge eating is linked to memory loss. I heard about a study a few months ago actually like this. Rats were fed high fat diets and they noticed that the brain microglia actually started to eat neuronal pathways actually leading to a decrease in cognitive ability. But they said that returning to a new diet will stop its effects. Researchers say the negative cognitive effects are reversible, but I already gave the citstion about obesity not being linked to decreased IQ. I should also note that this study was carried out on rats and while this may be a factor for humans as well, a few studies need to be done.
Binge eating, however, actually has a genetic component. Though this was only observed in girls. One reason I can think of for this is that women need higher body fat for a leptin release so puberty can begin so they can bear children.
This article purports to show 5 ways obesity affects the brain. Obesity does cause food addiction, however, those who lack the ability to delay gratification are more likely to not be able to control their impulse to overeat. I always link to the MRI scan showing the control, obese and cocaine user’s brain. Interesting to see that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. Obesity doesn’t make us more impulsive. Check out the Marshmallow Experiment, as well as its follow-up studies. Those who are more impulsive are more likely to be obese, as well as have lower SAT scores.
Satoshi Kanazawa also noted that childhood IQ predicted whether or not one would become obese at the age of 51. General intelligence in childhood has a direct effect on weight gain, BMI, and obesity, net of parents education and SES, parents BMI, the child’s social class, and sex. More intelligent children grew up to make healthier choices, and therefore stayed leaner than those children who were less bright. The link between childhood obesity and intelligence also shows that the effect between childhood g is unmediated by education of income. Meaning, those with lower IQs in a higher socioeconomic bracket STILL have the same chance of becoming obese as those in the lower socioeconomic bracket. Finally, parental BMI itself is a consequence of parental general intelligence, which the parents pass on to their children. This shows the extremely high heritability of obesity as well as showing how intelligence plays a factor in the causes of obesity.
The known differences in ethnic obesity rates generally mirror the intelligence of those populations. All populations are showing a sharp dysgenic decline, which coincides with a more obese population as well. Sociologists and the like may say that those who are poor cannot afford the same types of food that those who have more wealth can. However, this is a false statement. Whole foods are not more expensive. The conclusion that was (obviously) reached is that there is expensive and non-expensive junk food as well as whole foods. Natural diets will not cost more, all things being equal. If you know how to eat and how to buy food, you will avoid spending too much money. This goes back to intelligence. One with a higher IQ will be able to think of what his present actions will lead to in the future while those with a lower IQ live in the now without a care for the future, which then manifests itself in their obesity.
There are numerous articles showing that the causality for low intelligence is not becoming obese, but that those who become obese have a lower IQ since childhood. Longitudinal studies show the relationship, while observational studies show that obesity drops intelligence. Clearly, observational studies are inferior for seeing the relationship between IQ and obesity. This then leads to researchers misinterpreting the data and drawing wrong conclusions.
** This is a great one. In a meta-analysis of twin and family studies, including mono and dizygotic twin studies, with a sample of 140,525 people, heritability of BMI was found to be between .75 and .82. Both extremely high correlations. Since the heritability of intelligence as well as height (another good predictor of intelligence), there is good evidence for the claim that becoming obese is due to lower childhood IQ, which is genetic in nature.