Early childhood obesity is associated with compromised cerebellar development
As part of a study investigating commonalities between Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS-a genetic imprinting disorder) and early-onset obesity of unknown etiology (EMO) we measured total cerebral and cerebellar volume on volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images. Individuals with PWS (N = 16) and EMO (N = 12) had smaller cerebellar volumes than a control group of 15 siblings (p = .02 control vs. EMO; p = .0005 control vs. PWS), although there was no difference among the groups in cerebral volume. Individuals with PWS and EMO also had impaired cognitive function: general intellectual ability (GIA): PWS 65 +/- 25; EMO 81 +/- 19; and Controls 112 +/- 13 (p < .0001 controls vs. PWS and controls vs. EMO). As both conditions are characterized by early-onset obesity and slowed cognitive development, these results raise the possibility that early childhood obesity retards both cerebellar and cognitive development.