Brain & BMI: Bad News

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DOES BEING OVERWEIGHT lead to dementia? It may, say Swedish  researchers, who compared brain atrophy mass index (BMI), an indicator of weight status that predicts the risk of disease, in 275 women. What they found: A higher BMI was associated with more temporal-lobe atrophy, a shrinkage in brain volume that seems to lead to dementia. The temporal lobe plays a key role in such functions as language, comprehension and memory.

There are several ways obesity could contribute to dementia, says lead researcher Deborah Gustafson, an epidemiologist. One theory is that excess fat leads to hardening of the arteries, which may impair oxygen flow to the brain. Or maybe it’s the hormone cortisol, found in abundance in obese people, which may be linked to brain atrophy.

This study only included women; obesity’s effect on the male brain is still unclear.

In any case this research suggests that staying a healthy weight throughout life can slow atrophy. And while weight loss’s effect on dementia hasn’t been studied, it can’t hurt, says Gustafson.

Resource: Reader’s Digest

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