Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Having a beer belly linked to having a smaller brain

Brains think more clearly when we're not overworking ourselves. By taking a break from work you'll experience more Overweight people have smaller brains, study suggests
Samantha Long | 12 January, 2019, 03:30

The study was published in the journal Neurology.

MEN with "beer bellies" and women with "muffin tops" have smaller brains, a new study shows.

For the study, researchers determined obesity by measuring body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio in study participants and found those with higher ratios of both measures had the lowest brain volume.

The study found that 1,291 people who had a BMI of 30 or higher and a high waist-to-hip ratio had the lowest average grey matter volume, at 786 cubic centimetres; 514 people with a BMI of 30 or higher but without central obesity had an average grey matter volume of 793 cubic centimetres.

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Some previous studies have also found a link between visceral fat or a high waist-to-hip ratio and lower brain volume, but these studies tended to be small and did not look at the combined effect of BMI and waist-to-hip ratio. Hamer's findings confirmed that trend, since he found that people with high BMI readings and lower waist-to-hip ratios showed similar grey matter volumes to people who were not obese. Based on these criteria, almost one in five of the study participants was found to be obese.

He added: 'This will need further research but it may be possible that someday regularly measuring BMI and waist-to-hip ratio may help determine brain health'. Meanwhile, 3,025 people with overall health scores had an average grey matter volume of 798 cubic centimetres. White matter contains nerve fiber bundles that connect various regions of the brain. "Our research looked at a large group of people and found obesity, specifically around the middle, may be linked with brain shrinkage", Hamer said.

Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: 'While BMI can be a crude measure and not necessarily a good indication of our general health, this research suggests that taking a person's waist-to-hip ratio into account may provide additional information that could be relevant to the health of the brain. Low-carb diets might be best for maintaining weight loss, study says Because the cause of a connection between brain volume and obesity is still unclear, perhaps something may be causing both, she wrote: "For example, if there are nutritional factors impacting brain volume, these same nutritional factors could be a direct cause of obesity".

Though the study didn't look at potential mechanisms linking visceral fat and brain shrinkage, one hypothesis is that this type of fat is thought to produce inflammatory substances that may play a role in brain atrophy, the researchers said.

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