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Big Belly Could Up Risk of Dementia

big bellyAdd another warning for individuals who struggle with their weight and carry the extra pounds around their belly. According to a new study, individuals with a large stomach during their forties are more likely to have dementia when they reach their 70s.

Kaiser Permanente researchers publish their findings in the journal Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 6,583 people age 40 to 45 in northern California who had their abdominal fat measured. An average of 36 years later, 16 percent of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia.

The study found that those with the highest amount of abdominal fat were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia than those with the lowest amount of abdominal fat.

“Considering that 50 percent of adults in this country have an unhealthy amount of abdominal fat, this is a disturbing finding,” said study author Rachel A. Whitmer, PhD, a Research Scientist of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, CA.

“Research needs to be done to determine what the mechanisms are that link abdominal obesity and dementia.”

Having a large abdomen increased the risk of dementia regardless of whether the participants were of normal weight overall, overweight, or obese, and regardless of existing health conditions, including diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Those who were overweight and had a large belly were 2.3 times more likely to develop dementia than people with a normal weight and belly size. People who were both obese and had a large belly were 3.6 times more likely to develop dementia than those of normal weight and belly size. Those who were overweight or obese but did not have a large abdomen had an 80-percent increased risk of dementia.

A large belly in mid-life has also been shown to increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and coronary heart disease, but this is the first time researchers have demonstrated that it also increases risk of dementia.

In the study, women were more likely than men to have abdominal obesity, along with non-whites, smokers, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, and those with less than a high school level of education.

As with all observational studies, it is possible that the association of the abdominal obesity and dementia is not driven by the abdominal obesity, but rather by a complex set of health-related behaviors, for which abdominal obesity is but one part.

“Autopsies have shown that changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease may start in young to middle adulthood, and another study showed that high abdominal fat in elderly adults was tied to greater brain atrophy,” Whitmer said.

“These findings imply that the dangerous effects of abdominal obesity on the brain may start long before the signs of dementia appear.”

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Big Belly Could Up Risk of Dementia

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Big Belly Could Up Risk of Dementia. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/03/28/big-belly-could-up-risk-of-dementia/2092.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.