Are Fat People Stupid Too?

When I was fat I felt stupid. I chalked it up to fatty haters who jumped to conclusions about my intellect based on my body weight.Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.52.59 AM

It seemed as though when I opened my mouth to speak I got the kind of expression that said, “Nobody wants to hear your stupid, fat opinion. You’re dumb and I don’t want to hear a thing you have to say.”

Duhhhh! I don't have an intelligent thing to say because I'm fat!

Duhhhh! I don’t have an intelligent thing to say because I’m fat!

My weight also affected my desire to get up, get dressed, and get out of the house. That feeling of inertia dulled my mind and contributed to my feelings of being fat and stupid. When I lost weight, I felt as though I gained IQ points. I thought it was an illusion. I didn’t really believe I was less smart when I was overweight.

I thought the illusion of feeling smarter was because people treated me differently. They seemed to have more respect for the words that came out of my mouth. Today I came across an article that basically validated what I thought was all in my head… sort of….. Alexandra Sifferlin published an article on Time magazine online that reports:

New research shows weight loss surgery can reverse the negative effects body fat may have on the brain

The article is written on the premise that too much fat slows down not just the body, but also the brain.dreamstime_s_34672049 This research is very interesting to me. I once shared in an earlier blog that I have been concerned about my higher-than-average risk of Alzheimer’s disease because of my small head circumference. According to the Time article, body fat has an adverse affect on all organs including the brain.

One study concluded that obese men and women have an estimated 35% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. To put it in layman’s terms fat cells produce a substance that causes severe inflammation in the brain. The inflammation gunks up the brain getting in the way of its healthy operation.

Sifferlin also reports in her article:

“In a recent study, a team of researchers looked at 17 obese women prior to bariatric surgery and found that their brains metabolized sugars faster than the brains of a control group of women at a normal weight. The women underwent cognitive function tests before their surgery as well as after. The results show that after surgery, the obese women showed improvement in the troubling brain activity seen prior to going under the knife, and they performed better on their cognitive function tests—especially in the area of executive function, which is used during planning and organization. The findings suggest that the fat loss reversing its bad effects on the brain.”

There seems to be a link between belly fat and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance has become linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.dreamstime_s_38546740 ““The more we understand about [body fat], the clearer it becomes that belly fat is its own disease-generating organism,” said Dr. Lenore Launer, chief of NIA’s Neuroepidemiology Section of the Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry in an NIH statement.”

The take away from this article and the research is belly fat presents multiple dangers to our health. Even though belly fat is specifically identified as the cause or higher risk of metabolic disease, you can’t lose belly fat by eliminating 5 foods. 

To lose belly fat you must improve your daily  habits to eat a healthy, balanced diet and become and stay physically active.

Although the article speaks to the positive effects bariatric (weight loss) surgery can have on the brain, but it’s not the surgery that is good for the brain – it’s the resulting weight loss.

I never had any sort of cognitive tests performed during the time I was obese or after I reached my goal. I can’t say with any kind of certainty that my IQ rises and falls depending on how the numbers on the scale rise and fall. I know I felt stupid. 

I know part of that was because I was not comfortable with myself and part of it was the unwarranted treatment I received because of “fatty prejudice” that too many people feel is completely justified (because, after all, it’s something they did to themselves with their disgusting, lazy, gluttonous ways!)

I don’t think fat people are stupid. Indeed, I’ve no doubt that some of the smartest people on the planet have BMI of more than 33 or even 40. I do think, though, that losing weight can have benefits that go way beyond how we look!
Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.