Extra calories don’t just expand your waist - they also shrink your brain! That’s from a recent New York University study that found that as we gain weight, we lose brain cells. And the majority of the loss happens in the part of the brain that limits impulsive behavior, which makes saying “no” to dessert increasingly difficult.

Here are 3 other surprising ways that obesity alters our brain:

  • The more you weigh, the less you enjoy food. According to the Journal of Neuroscience, gaining weight limits our ability to perceive pleasure when we eat sugary and fatty foods. The effect is similar to what happens to addicts, who eventually require more drugs to reach the same high. Meaning, you need to eat more to get the same level of enjoyment.

  • Yo-yo dieting makes you more likely to binge. Tracy Bale is a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania. And her research shows that repeatedly losing and regaining the same weight changes how our brain reacts to stress. When yo-yo dieters get tense, they eat significantly more than those whose weight stays pretty steady.

  • Obesity harms our memory. Researchers found that every one-point increase in a person’s body mass index is matched by a one-point decrease in their scores on a memory test. That’s because the hormones released by belly fat damage brain cells. In fact, a study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that obesity-related brain-cell damage significantly increases the risk of dementia.