(NaturalNews) A new study shows that middle-aged people with excess fat around the waist and belly are nearly three times more likely to suffer from dementia in their 70s and 80s than people with little to no belly fat. Dementia is a condition which causes memory loss, speech problems, and general brain and mind deterioration.
The study, published in The Journal of the American Academy of Neurology researched records from patients who had their abdominal fat measured in the 1960s and 1970s when they were in their 40s and 50s. Of the 6,583 patients studied, 15.9 percent had been diagnosed with dementia by 2006.
Scientists found that waist size was a better prediction than overall weight measured on the scales. Among patients with the most waist/belly fat in middle age, the rate of dementia was 324.3 cases per 10,000. In comparison, patients with the least belly fat had a rate of dementia of 214.6 cases per 10,000.
When the data was adjusted for factors that can affect dementia, it was concluded that people with the most belly fat were 2.72 times more likely to develop dementia than those with the least fat.
People with large hips, buttocks and thighs, but small waists and bellies, were not particularly at risk for dementia. However, slim people with a pot belly could be at risk. The study showed that people who are average weight but carried weight in the belly/waist area were 89 percent more likely to develop dementia than people of average weight with little or no belly fat.
It is not completely understood why waist fat is so dangerous, but scientists think that the fat in this area may be more likely to release toxins associated with plaque build-up in the brain that is shown in people with Alzheimer's disease.
"Considering that 50 per cent of U.S. adults have an unhealthy amount of abdominal fat, this is a disturbing finding," said researcher Dr. Rachel Whitmer.
Besides being more at risk for dementia, people with larger waists and bellies are more likely to have heart disease and strokes, while people that carry fat around their hips don't appear to have an increased risk.
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