Link found between oversized waists and smaller brains - research

  • Link found between oversized waists and smaller brains - research

Link found between oversized waists and smaller brains - research

This compared with a volume of 798 for around 3,000 people of healthy weight. Study Did Not Prove Causal Link The study, nonetheless, found only an association between lower brain volume and belly fat. 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.

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.

Obesity linked to reduced brain volume in four regions The study of 9,652 middle-age people in the United Kingdom measured body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio.

The findings held even after researchers took into account other factors that can affect brain volume, including age, smoking and high blood pressure. However, excess weight was associated with shrinkage in specific regions of the brain: the pallidum, nucleus accumbens, putamen (linked only to a higher BMI) and caudate (linked only to a higher waist-to-hip ratio).

Brain shrinkage was less for people who were obese but did not have a high waist-to-hip ratio, suggesting both are important.

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

Scientists looked at a total of 9,652 people with an average age of 55. It was found that almost one in five of the participants were found to be obese.

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

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

They then measured the participants' waist-to-hip ratio, determined by dividing waist circumference by hip circumference.

"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.

It could be that people with lower volumes of gray matter in certain brain areas are at a higher risk of obesity.

'The study adds to existing evidence highlighting a link between a healthy weight and a healthy brain, but the researchers didn't look at whether participants went on to develop diseases like Alzheimer's and this will need to be explored in future research'.