Medicine

Excessive body fat around the middle linked to smaller brain, study says

Excessive body fat around the middle linked to smaller brain, study says

Similarly, the waist-to-hip ratio is scored, and a high score - above 0.90 for men and above 0.85 for women - means a person has central obesity, or a bigger belly than hips.

Among people with higher BMIs, those with thicker waists had lower grey matter brain volumes than those who were slimmer round the middle. 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.

However, those with both a high BMI and high waist-to-hip ratio had an even lower grey brain matter volume than participants who did not have a high waist-to-hip ratio.

"While our study found obesity, especially around the middle, was associated with lower gray matter brain volumes, it's unclear if abnormalities in brain structure lead to obesity, or if obesity leads to these changes in the brain", study author Dr Mark Hamer said in a statement.

The study focused on more than 9,600 middle-aged people in Britain. BMI is the weight-to-height ratio-people with a BMI above 30.0 are considered obese.

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.

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Findings of a new study that involved almost 10,000 people now provide evidence that having excessive fat around the middle may also be bad for the brain.

'Existing research has linked brain shrinkage to memory decline and a higher risk of dementia, but research on whether extra body fat is protective or detrimental to brain size has been inconclusive'. The researchers factored in age, physical activity, smoking and high blood pressure, all of which might lead to reduced volume.

Specifically, people with both a high BMI and high waist-to-hip ratio had an average gray matter volume of 786 cubic centimetres, compared with 793 cubic centimetres for people with a high BMI but not a high waist-to-hip ratio; and 798 cubic centimetres for people of a healthy weight. All of these brain regions are involved in motivation and reward.

He added: 'This will need further research but it may be possible that someday regularly measuring BMI and waist-to-hip ratio may help determine brain health'.

Future research should explore inflammation, nutrition and vascular health to better understand potential links between brain health and obesity, she said.


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