Sunday, 16 June, 2019

Excessive body fat around the middle linked to smaller brain size

Scientists have learned more about the brain in the past 10 years than in all other time periods combined. Take a look at these discoveries to see how to improve your memory and boost your mental power Overweight people have smaller brains, study suggests
Gustavo Carr | 12 January, 2019, 03:29

This compared with a volume of 798 for around 3,000 people of healthy weight.

No significant differences were found in white matter brain volume. Excess Belly Fat And Brain Shrinkage Findings of a new study that involved almost 10,000 people now provide evidence that having excessive fat around the middle may also be bad for the brain.

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

Mark Hamer of Loughborough University, who led the study, said that previous research on whether extra body fat was detrimental to brain size had been inconclusive.

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

Grey matter contains most of the brain's 100 billion nerve cells, while the white matter is filled with nerve fibres that connect the brain regions.

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

Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: 'While BMI can be a crude measure and not necessarily a good indication of our general health, this research suggests that taking a person's waist-to-hip ratio into account may provide additional information that could be relevant to the health of the brain.

However, those with both a high BMI and high waist-to-hip ratio had an even lower grey brain matter volume than participants who did not have a high waist-to-hip ratio.

The lowest grey matter brain volume, seen in 1,291 participants, was 786 cubic centimetres (cc). All of these brain regions are involved in motivation and reward. "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.

It could be that people with lower volumes of gray matter in certain brain areas are at a higher risk of obesity. "Our research looked at a large group of people and found obesity, specifically around the middle, may be linked with brain shrinkage", says Prof Hamer.

A limitation of the study was that only 5 percent of those invited to participate in the study took part, and those who participated tended to be healthier than those who did not, so the results may not reflect the population as a whole.