Washington: Middle aged people with pot
bellies are at greater risk of developing dementia later in
life, a new study led by an Indian origin scientist has
The research by Sudha Seshadri and her colleagues from
Boston University School of Medicine found that those with the
highest amount of waistline fat had smaller brains than those
with the lowest amount.
"Our results confirm the inverse association of
increasing BMI (Body Mass Index) with lower brain volumes in
older adults and with younger, middle-aged adults and extends
the findings to a much larger study sample," said Dr Seshadri.
"More importantly our data suggests a stronger connection
between central obesity, particularly the visceral fat
component of abdominal obesity, and risk of dementia and
Alzheimer`s disease," she added.
The study, published in online in Annals of Neurology,
could lead to promising prevention strategies in the future,
said the researchers.
For their research, Seshadri and her colleagues
measured abdominal obesity in 733 people, aged 60 on average,
and compared them to brain volume on CT scans.
They found that those who had larger stomachs during
their 30s were significantly more likely to have smaller
brains by the time they reached their 50s.
Abdominal fat is recognised as the most dangerous, hidden
type of fat, which is more dangerous than fat on the hips.
A 2005 World Health Organisation (WHO) report estimated
that 24.3 million people have some form of dementia, with 4.6
million new cases annually.
Individuals with dementia exhibit a decline in short-term
and long-term memory, language processing, problem solving
capabilities, and other cognitive function.
Clinical diagnosis of dementia is made when two or more
brain functions are significantly impaired.
Symptoms of dementia can be attributed to irreversible
causes such Alzheimer`s disease, vascular dementia, and
Huntington`s disease, or caused by treatable conditions such
as brain tumour, medication reaction, or metabolic issues.
Previous researches have already linked obesity to
vascular diseases which play a role in dementia, partly
through hardening of the arteries.
"Our findings, while preliminary, provide greater
understanding of the mechanisms underlying the link between
obesity and dementia," said Dr Seshadri.
"Further studies will add to our knowledge and offer
important methods of prevention," she added.