Link found between oversized waists and smaller brains - research

Maricruz Casares
Enero 11, 2019

"Existing research has linked brain shrinkage".

Lower brain volume, or brain shrinkage, has been linked with an increased risk of memory decline and dementia.

Of the whole group, 19% were shown to be obese according to their body mass index (BMI), a measurement which relates weight and height.

The study observed 9,652 people with an average age of 55.

Looking at both BMI as well as waist-to-hip ratio clarifies what role different types of body fat may play in affecting the brain, Hamer says.

"It's unclear if abnormalities in brain structure lead to obesity or if obesity leads to these changes in the brain", study author Mark Hamer said in a statement. This effect remained strong even after researchers accounted for other factors that might affect brain volume, including age, smoking history, education, physical activity and history of mental illness.

About 500 participants with a high BMI but not a high waist-to-hip ratio also had an average amount of grey matter.

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Specifically, people with both a high BMI and high waist-to-hip ratio had an average gray matter volume of 786 cubic centimeters, compared with 793 cubic centimeters for people with a high BMI but not a high waist-to-hip ratio; and 798 cubic centimeters for people of a healthy weight.

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New UK research has found that carrying extra body fat, especially around the waist, may be linked to a smaller brain size, which could indicate a higher risk of dementia.

A limitation of the study was that only 5% of those invited to participate ended up taking part, the researchers pointed out. People who have bigger bellies compared to their hips have a higher ratio, with men above 0.90 and women above 0.85 considered to be centrally obese.

Grey matter contains most of the brain's nerve cells and includes brain regions involved in self-control, muscle control and sensory perception.

No significant differences were found in white matter brain volume.

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