abdominal fat

  1. Overeating could ruin your brain

    Empty calories aren't just bad for your belly. They can be downright ruinous for your brain -- and the latest research shows again how people who eat the most have the highest risk of memory problems.

    That means watching what you eat now could be the simplest way to avoid dementia later on.

    Researchers divided some 1,200 seniors between 70 and 89 years old into three categories based on how many calories they ate each day: a third consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories a day, a third chowed down on between 1,526 and 2,143, and the final third ate between 2,143 and 6,000 calories a day.

    Those in that last group had double the risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to the rest of the eaters in the study, even after adjusting for other risk factors like age, education and health history.

    But if you've noticed that the last category was rather broad, you're not alone.

    It seems to me there's a huge difference between someone who eats 2,200 calories a day -- which can be healthy, depending on how you get those calories -- and someone who gorges on 6,000 calories a day... which isn't healthy no matter what you eat.

    Yet in this study, they're both lumped into the same group. In addition, the study was based on food frequency questionnaires -- so those numbers are guesstimates at best.

    But I'm not ready to write this study off yet, either, because there's a clear link between diet and dementia -- and other studies have also found that people who weigh the most have the highest risk of the condition.

    One study found that women with the biggest waistlines in middle age had double the risk of dementia in old age. Another found that men and women alike with the highest levels of abdominal fat have more than triple the risk of dementia of those with the least.

    And yet another study last year found that overweight people see significant improvements in both memory and concentration when they lose weight.

    But if that's not enough of a reason to drop the extra pounds, consider all the other risks that accompany obesity: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and -- of course -- an early demise.

    If you can avoid all that by eating a little better, I say go for it.

  2. Belly fat may lead to dementia

    If your belly's been getting bigger, you may be at risk for a lot more than the infamous weight-related problems.

    You could be facing dementia.

    A new study finds that women who have bigger bellies in middle age have a much higher risk for dementia in old age.

    The Swedish study published in Neurology looked at data on 1,500 women who were between the ages of 38 and 60 starting in the 1960s. These women underwent extensive physicals and answered questions about their health and lifestyles.

    During a follow-up 32 years later, researchers discovered that 161 of the women had developed dementia... and that women with broader waists than hips in middle age had more than double the risk.

    While these researchers only looked at the data on women, other studies have shown that men are at risk too.

    A California study published last year found that men and women alike with the highest amounts of abdominal fat had three times the risk of developing dementia than those with the smallest amounts of abdominal fat.

    In both studies, the increased risk of dementia appeared to exist independent of other factors – including weight. People with bigger bellies who managed to maintain a normal overall weight still had an increased risk of dementia.

    While the Swedish researchers found no connection between overall body mass and dementia, the California study did – concluding that overweight people with normal-sized bellies still had an 80 percent increase in the risk of dementia.

    What's the connection between bellies and brains?

    There are plenty of theories, of course – but no one can say for sure just yet. It seems quite likely that the hormonal imbalances created by all that extra weight is playing a big role here. Pack on the pounds in middle age, and all those hormones have decades to go to work on your body – leading to dementia, Alzheimer's and plenty of other conditions later on.

    When you consider that belly fat also leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and early death, there's really no shortage of motivating factors to kick-start your own weight-loss plan.

    And if you don't – you face losing your mind before you lose your life.

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