The Surprising Link Between Belly Fat and Dementia

Your waist-to-hip ratio may increase your risk of cognitive issues.

A new cognitive study examined the potential link between belly fat and the brain. Researchers analyzed the connection between obesity and cognitive abilities in adults 60 years and older and found that belly fat, rather than Body Mass Index (BMI), could solve the mystery of what causes dementia. Dr. Howard Fillit of the Alzheimer’s Discovery Drug Foundation reports to Healthline, “Central fat is an inflammatory tissue. Inflammation is a widely recognized risk for cognitive impairment.” Fillit recommends considering belly fat as an indicator of poor health, involving heart disease, diabetes, cognitive impairment, and dementia.

Experts say waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) provides a more accurate measurement of central fat than BMI. The founder of SoWell Health, Dr. Alexandra Sowa reports that “BMI is a useful but inexact measuring guide. It only takes into account weight and height and isn’t always a reliable measure of body fat. WHR puts more importance on visceral fat, an endocrine organ that secretes hormones and chemicals that are linked to the development of diseases.” Excess body fat leads to inflammation, which leads to disease. The soaring rates of obesity and cognitive decline are evidence of the potential correlation.

WHR is calculated by dividing your waist circumference by your hip circumference. When doing so, be sure to measure the smallest part of your waist and biggest area of your hips. A healthy WHR is considered to be 0.85 or less for women and 0.9 or less for men. If you’re above these limits your belly fat may cause a greater risk of cognitive decline. On a positive note, obesity is preventable and treatable. With weight loss and exercise, you can reduce your risk of various diseases. In order to lose stubborn belly fat, it is crucial to be proactive and find a diet and exercise plan that you’re able to stick with.

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