Does Belly Fat Make You Dumb?
Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney
But you probably knew that already.
This week I’m going to tell you about a recent study that breaks new ground and should really grab your attention.
Belly Fat Increases Your Risk Of Dementia
This week’s study shows that abdominal obesity dramatically increases your risk of developing dementia as you age (RA Whitmer et al, Neurology, 71: 1057-1064, 2008).
This study involved 6,583 members of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, ages 40 to 45, who had their abdominal obesity measured between 1964 and 1973. The investigators then pulled their medical records between 1994 and 2006 when they were between 73 and 87 years old and asked how many of them had dementia.
The results may shock you.
The participants were divided into five groups based on their abdominal circumference. Those with the largest abdominal circumference were nearly 3 times more likely to have developed dementia than those with the smallest abdominal circumference. And that was after the data were adjusted for age, sex, race, education, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, stroke and heart disease – all factors that are known to affect the risk of dementia.
Belly Fat Is Worse Than Overall Obesity
Interestingly enough the abdominal circumference was a better predictor of dementia risk than was BMI, the most frequently used measure of obesity.
- Those subjects who had high abdominal obesity and normal BMI had a 2-fold increased risk of developing dementia
- Those subjects who were obese but had normal abdominal circumference had only an 80% increased risk of developing dementia.
- Of course, those people who were both obese and had a large belly were the worst off – they had almost a 4-fold increased risk of developing dementia.
So where you store your fat is more important than the total amount of fat, but you probably knew that already.
You Can Reduce Your Risk Of Dementia
Now let’s get to the question that I’m sure that many of you are dying to ask me: “If I don’t like what I see when I look into the mirror, am I doomed to develop dementia when I get older?”
The answer is no. Most experts feel that the effects of abdominal obesity are reversible.
But the time to act is now!
If you wait until you get older, you might just forget that you ever read this article.
The Bottom Line
- The bad news is that belly fat increases your risk of developing dementia as you get older by as much as 3-fold.
- The good news is that dementia is not inevitable. You can reverse the increased risk of dementia by losing the belly fat
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.