Obesity Surgery

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 532–540 | Cite as

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

  • Christina Prickett
  • Renerus Stolwyk
  • Paul O’Brien
  • Leah Brennan
Original Contributions



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.


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.


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.


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


Funding Information

This research was partially funded by a Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Strategic Grant (SPG077).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11695_2017_2894_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Table S1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health SciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Obesity Research and Education, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health SciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  3. 3.Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical NeurosciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  4. 4.School of Psychology, Faculty of Health SciencesAustralian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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