Belly fat 'linked to brain shrinkage' and could raise risk of Alzheimer's

Modesto Morganelli
Gennaio 11, 2019

In the study, scientists compared body mass index (BMI) measurements as well as waist-to-hip ratio recordings taken between 2006 and 2010.

The study observed 9,652 people with an average age of 55.

New UK research has found that carrying extra body fat, especially around the waist, may be linked to a smaller brain size, which could indicate a higher risk of dementia.

"Our research looked at a large group of people and found obesity, specifically around the middle, may be linked with brain shrinkage".

In fact, the difference was substantial: people with high BMI and a high waist-to-hip ratio had an average gray matter brain volume of 786 cubic centimeters, while healthy weight people had an average of 798 cubic centimeters.

However, the study found only an association between belly fat and lower brain volume, and can not prove that carrying more fat around the waist actually causes brain shrinkage. People who have bigger bellies compared to their hips have a higher ratio, with men above 0.90 and women above 0.85 considered to be centrally obese. Hamer's findings confirmed that trend, since he found that people with high BMI readings and lower waist-to-hip ratios showed similar grey matter volumes to people who were not obese.

Grey matter in the brain consists mostly of nerve cells while "white matter" is made up of connecting nerve fibres. "We also found links between obesity and shrinkage in specific regions of the brain". People in the middle, with a high BMI but without high waist-to-hip ratio, had an of 793 cubic centimeters. Because the study only analyzed body fat and brain images at a single point in time for all of the participants, it's also possible that the reverse effect could be occurring, and that brain changes are responsible for changing eating habits and satiety and therefore driving the increase in body fat.

Those who did participate tended to be healthier than those who did not.

In other words, these results might not be true for the overall population.

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