Looking for another reason to get slim and stay slim in 2019? Well, here it is: according to new research, carrying extra body fat might be shrinking your brain.
A study recently published in the journal Neurology has concluded that extra body fat – especially around the middle area, known as visceral fat – may be linked to brain shrinkage.
The study’s lead author, Mark Hamer of Loughborough University in England, explains such brain shrinkage is linked with a higher risk of memory decline and deteriorating diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
“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,” says Hamer.
To determine if a link occurs, the researchers compared body mass index (BMI) measurements and waist-to-hip ratios from more than 9,600 people living in the United Kingdom, with an average age of 55. The participants also underwent an MRI to determine their brain volumes.
The results found that people with both a high BMI and high waist-to-hip ratio had the lowest brain volumes, compared to people who just had a high BMI but had a healthy weight and normal waist-to-hip ratio.
More specifically, those with both a high BMI and high waist-to-hip ratio had an average grey matter volume of 786 cubic centimetres, compared with 793 cubic centimetres for people with a high BMI but not a high waist-to-hip ratio; and 798 cubic centimetres for people of a healthy weight.
While the study shows a clear connection, Hamer explains the nature of this link is still up for debate and further research needs to be conducted: “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.”
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