Friday, 18 January, 2019

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

Exercising your mind with activities other than traditional Overweight people have smaller brains, study suggests
Melissa Porter | 12 January, 2019, 03:29

The findings of the study appeared in the Journal of Neurology. 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. "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", he adds.

The study, from the United Kingdom, found that people who were obese and had a high waist-to-hip ratio (a measure of belly fat) had slightly lower brain volumes, on average, compared with people who were a healthy weight. People with higher numbers on both BMI and waist-to-hip ratio had the lowest gray matter volume. According to their findings, people with more excess fat around the middle appear to have a shrunken brain and less gray matter.

Experts note that more research is needed as to why there is a connection between obesity and brain volume.

The lowest grey matter brain volume, seen in 1,291 participants, was 786 cubic centimetres (cc).

'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'.

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. All of these brain regions are involved in motivation and reward.

"Our research looked at a large group of people and found obesity, specifically around the middle, may be linked with brain shrinkage", lead study author Mark Hamer, a professor at Loughborough University's School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences in Leicestershire, England, 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. The findings of the study, which was published in the journal Neurology on January 9, suggest that the combination of obesity and high waist-to-hip ratio could be a risk factor for brain shrinkage, which has been tied to elevated risk for memory decline and dementia.

The study also showed no real differences in white matter brain volume linked to obesity.

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