Researchers from University of Cambridge in the UK tested 50 participants aged 18-35, with body mass indexes (BMIs) ranging from 18 to 51, a BMI of 18-25 is considered healthy, 25-30 overweight, and over 30 obese.

The participants took part in a memory test known as the 'Treasure-Hunt Task', where they were asked to hide items around complex scenes (for example, a desert with palm trees) across two 'days'.

They were then asked to remember which items they had hidden, where they had hidden them, and when they were hidden. Overall, the team found an association between higher BMI and poorer performance on the tasks.

The results could suggest that the structural and functional changes in the brain previously found in those with higher BMI may be accompanied by a reduced ability to form and/or retrieve episodic memories, researchers said.

As the effect was shown in young adults, it adds to growing evidence that the cognitive impairments that accompany obesity may be present early in adult life, they said.

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