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Abdominal Fat and Dementia

- Monday, October 17, 2011

Gaining weight, especially in the midsection, has been associated with a number of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. New research suggests that you can add shrinking brain size, an indication of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, to that list.

Using data collected from 733 healthy participants with an average age 60, investigators looked at the associations among body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, amount of subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat and four different magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based measurements of brain volume.

Researchers discovered that although all of the assessments of weight were linked with a reduction in brain volume to some degree, the link was strongest between abdominal fat and decreased brain volume. This association was independent of BMI and measurements of insulin resistance.  The study was reported in the Annals of Neurology.

This finding sheds some light on the mechanisms that underlie the association between weight gain and dementia, which is still not well understood. People who are concerned about dementia should take steps to lower their amount of abdominal fat.

Original article - Johns Hopkins