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Big Belly Carries Risk of Dementia

The size of your belly is considered a more accurate gauge in determining the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes than weight alone. New research indicates that middle-aged people with big bellies are at higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer's as well.

The study was conducted by scientists at the research department of Kaiser Permanente and published online in March 2008 by the journal Neurology.

The researchers followed up on 6,583 people who had their waists measured between 1964 and 1973 when they were in their 40's. Of these participants, 1,049 were diagnosed with dementia between 1994 and 2006.

The measurement used was the height of the belly while the person is lying down, with the measurement of 9.8 inches indicating a large belly. Obesity was determined by using the body mass index (BMI). Individuals were considered obese if they had BMIs of 25 or greater.

In the study, people that were both obese and had a large belly were 3.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia when compared to people with healthy weights and belly size. For those with a healthy BMI but a large belly, the risk was still 1.9 times higher.

Obesity is a problem that has grown to epidemic levels in America. It affects every aspect of health from cholesterol and blood pressure levels to brain function and motor skills. The best way to loose weight and get in shape is to couple a proper diet (low in calories, refined sugar and simple carbohydrates) with a regular exercise plan.

Source: Neurology
Published online before print March 26, 2008
“Central obesity and increased risk of dementia more than three decades later”
R. A. Whitmer PhD*, D. R. Gustafson PhD, E. Barrett-Connor MD, M. N. Haan DrPH, E. P. Gunderson PhD, and K. Yaffe MD

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