Fat Belly Increases Dementia and Azheimer's Risk Dramatically
Healthy Weight People Still at Risk
The risk of dementia nearly doubled in those who were a healthy weight but still had a bulging waist, suggesting that fat accumulated around the midline is particularly unhealthy for the brain
“The take-home message from this study is that one should not only be concerned about their weight but where they carry their fat,” said Rachel Whitmer, the lead author of the study and a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente’s division of research in Oakland, Calif.
The findings are particularly concerning in light of the rise in obesity rates in the United States, Whitmer said. More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese and about half have abdominal obesity. Obesity cost US citizens $147 billion annually. in 2008, obesity accounted for 8.5 per cet of Medicare expenditure, 11.8 per cent of Medicaid expenditure, and 12.9 per cent of private insurance expenditure and that number is growing (pun intended).
Lenore Launer, chief of the neuroepidemiology division at the National Institute of Aging, said it’s too early to conclude that abdominal fat is a direct cause of dementia.
“These findings are an indicator that something is happening in the brain and more research needs to be done looking at the role obesity is playing in brain health when people get older,” Launer said.
In the study, Whitmer’s team followed up on 6,583 men and women who had their waists measured between 1964 and 1973, when they were between 40 and 45 years old. The measurement used, known as sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD), is the height of the belly taken while a person is lying down and is considered a good indicator of abdominal fat.
A SAD of 9.8 inches or more is considered a large belly. Using medical records, the researchers found that between 1994 to 2006, when the study participants were between 73 and 87 years old, 1,049 had been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Those who were both obese and had a large belly back in their 40s were 3.6 times more likely to be diagnosed later with dementia than those who’d had a healthy weight and belly size. Those who were a healthy weight but still had a large belly were 1.9 times more likely to develop dementia.
“But the good news,” Whitmer added, “is that you can do something about it.” The type of fat that collects around the abdominal region is easy to accumulate but also easy to get rid of, she said.According to health and fitness expert Jeff Behar, CEO of MuscleMagFitness.com, getting rid of abdominal fat does not have to be hard. "Getting rid of excess fat around the midsection doesn't have to be hard, " says Behar. "All it takes is a bit of dedication, and some simple lifestyle changes, like excercising daily, reducing consumption of processed fats, high fat foods, reducing meal serving size, and eating smaller meals more frequently."