A study published online in this month’s Neurology suggests that people whose waistline expands once they hit age 40 are more likely to develop dementia in their 70s than their slimmer peers.
For the study, researchers measured the abdominal fat of 6,583 people between the ages of 40 and 45 living in Northern California. After an average of 36 years, 16% of participants had developed dementia.
Based on this data, the researchers determined that those with the highest abdominal fat measurements were roughly three times more likely to develop dementia than those with the lowest levels of abdominal fat. These findings held true regardless of whether the individual was of normal weight overall, overweight or obese, although the researchers note that future dementia risk was highest among obese individuals with high abdominal fat measurements. According to researchers, women were more likely than men to have high abdominal fat levels, along with non-whites, those with less than a high school level of education, smokers, and people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.