Recent Irish-based research revealed a connection between belly fat and cognitive impairment in older adults. More specifically, increased body weight can lead to severe brain conditions, such as dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Carried out by Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, with international collaborators, the new study showed that people over 60 years old are more exposed to reduced cognitive functions if they are overweight. For this research, the researchers analyzed the data of more than 5,000 people and found a clear connection between belly fat and dementia.
In fact, many previous studies asserted that overweight people are scoring lower in memory and cognitive tests, regarding their age. However, this new study concentrated primarily on older adults.
“This is of concern within Ireland, as over half of the over-50s population is classified as being centrally obese, with only 16 percent of men and 26 percent of women reported to have a BMI (body mass index) within the normal range,” the study’s report reads.
Belly fat might cause cognitive impairment in older adults, including dementia
Analyzing the data gathered by the Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture (TUDA), which collects data from several thousands of adults over 60 years of age, the researchers found that the inflammatory markers produced due to the belly fat also increase the inflammation at the brain level and can reduce the cognitive functions.
On the other hand, fat-free muscle mass has been noticed as a protective factor against cognitive impairment.
“While we have known for some time that obesity is associated with negative health consequences our study adds to emerging evidence suggesting that obesity and where we deposit our excess weight could influence our brain health,” explained Conal Cunningham, the study’s leading author and a researcher at the Trinity College in Dublin.
This study is among the few ones that make a clear connection between belly fat and cognitive impairment.