A Fat Belly Affects Body and Brain
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Carrying too much fat around our waistline doesn’t just put additional strain on our body. It also affects our brain, according to new research published in medical journal Neurology.
Researchers from Sweden and America set out to identify whether a link existed between central obesity during middle age and the risk of dementia three decades later.
The team studied more than 6,000 adults from North California, who’d had their waistline and Body Mass Index (BMI) measured between the ages of 40 and 45 years. Three decades later, around 16 percent of the adults were diagnosed with dementia.
The researchers discovered that those who were obese with a BMI of more than 30 and had a large belly in their 40’s were 3.6 times more likely to suffer with dementia in their 70’s compared to those who had a normal weight and belly size in their 40’s.
The link wasn’t just related to those with a high BMI. Those adults with a normal BMI with too much fat around their waistline, were also almost twice as likely to suffer with dementia in old age.
The researchers conclude that too much fat around the waistline in midlife increases the risk of dementia. “Where one carries the weight, especially in midlife, appears to be an important predictor for dementia risk,” says Dr Whitmer, who headed up the study.
It’s well established that central obesity increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in later life. Other studies have found a link between being overweight or obese and having an increased risk of dementia in old age.
This is the first study of its kind to establish a link between having too much fat around the waistline in midlife and the impact this has on the risk of dementia in old age. What’s interesting about this study is that it’s the distribution of fat, rather than BMI, which seems to be particularly important – even those adults with a normal BMI were more likely to suffer dementia if they had a fat waistline during middle age.
As the researchers point out, this study implies that central obesity may start to affect the brain long before the signs of dementia appear.
As a result, even if you have a normal BMI, it’s worth measuring your waistline to check you’re not storing too much fat around your waistline.
Health Experts Recommend:
Women maintain a waist measurement below 32 inches (80cm)
Men maintain a waist measurement below 37 inches (94cm).
If your waistline is above the recommended measurement, then it’s worth combining a sensible Weight Loss plan with increased activity to burn excess fat.
It’s impossible to lose fat specifically from one part of the body, but generally, most people tend to lose fat from those parts of the body where they store it.
If you want to reduce your risk of a range of health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia in later life, use Weight Loss Resources to help you lose pounds and shift fat around your waistline.
Weight Loss Resources has Tools and information to help you lose weight and shift the fat around your waistline, by healthy eating and getting your calorie balance right You can access the calorie database and keep an online food diary, free, for 24 hours.