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Apple-Shaped Abdomen Fat - Increased Risk for Dementia

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, March 27, 2008 11:18 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, Diabetes. Obesity

An increase in abdominal fat associated with an apple shape increases risk for dementia 

Diet and Exercise And the Mind



IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ woman’s belly fat/Jsheets19 

It’s been assumed that family history is one risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Now add your belly girth.

A new study finds that abdominal fat is a bigger risk than family history in increasing the likelihood that you will develop dementia in your 70s and 80s.

In this study 6,583 adults between the ages of 40 and 45 were found to be three times more likely to develop dementia, than those studied who did not have abdominal fat.

Having a sibling or parents increased the risk by two fold.

Dementia leads to the loss of memory and cognitive functions. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of it affecting 5.7 million Americans - about one tenth of the population over the age of 65.

The study subjects were studied from 1964 to 1973 and members of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California. After 36 years, 16 percent of those with the apple shaped, that is the higher belly fat, had developed dementia.

The apple-shaped person can have visceral fat surrounding internal abdominal organs even if they are lean with a small pot belly.

For purposes of measurement, people with a body mass index (BMI) measuring 25 to 29.9 were considered overweight. 

Calculating your BMI can be done by putting numbers into this chart.  Those considered obese with a large belly increased their chances of developing dementia at 3.6 times greater than those in the normal range.

Pear shaped bodies, those who put weight in on the thighs, hips and buttocks, did not seem to be correlated with dementia.

The connection between belly fat and the mind is unknown but researchers have noticed the link between obesity, diabetes and heart disease to dementia.  Abdominal fat is metabolically active and may release hormones that play a role in sparking the buildup of plaque in the brain.

Researchers believe doctors also need to calculate where one carries their fat when evaluating the health of a patient.  

This study reinforces that fat is more than a number on the scale and provides just one more reason to turn to diet and exercise into a fat fighter. Fortunately belly fat is usually the first to go.    

The study appears in Neurology.  #

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