Fluid intelligence is the ability to think logically and solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge. According to a new study, having more abdominal fat and less muscle mass may have a negative influence on fluid intelligence as we age.
Participants in the study included 4,431 adults who were middle-aged or older who took part in the UK Biobank study. Lean muscle, abdominal fat, subcantenous fat, and white blood cell counts were measured at 2-year intervals over 6 years. Fluid intelligence scores were evaluated at the same intervals.
The researchers found that participants with higher amounts of abdominal fat saw decreases in fluid intelligence scores after 6 years. In comparison, higher amounts of muscle mass had a protective effect on fluid intelligence.
In addition, they found that the link between abdominal fat and worsened fluid intelligence in women was accompanied by an increase in the white blood cells called lymphocytes and decreases in the white blood cells called eosinophils. In men, it was accompanied by a decrease in the white blood cells called basophils.
The study was conducted by researchers from Iowa State University. It was published online ahead of print on September 9, 2019 in the journalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity.