A recent study from Ireland has found that belly fat is associated with a lower cognitive functioning in older adults (60 years and older).1 The study may have profound implications for a global dementia population that is predicted to increase 3-fold by 2040.
Research shows that overweight individuals underperform normal weight controls on tests of memory and visuospatial ability
Previous research has seen that overweight individuals under-perform normal weight controls on tests of memory and visuospatial ability. That these findings hold true for older adults has not been as thoroughly studied.
Concern for the “world at large’ (pun intended)
This is concern not just for Ireland, but the industrialized world at large is experiencing the largest increase in healthcare needs coming from a rapidly growing elderly population, as the baby boomer generation begins to enter into old age. Obesity is a central concern for this patient population. In Ireland over 50 percent of those over 50 years of age are classified as obese, with only 16% of men and 26% of women reporting healthy weight. These trends are similar for the United States.
Research looked at data from the Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture (TUDA) aging cohort study
The research study looked at data from roughly 5,000 individuals as part of the Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture (TUDA) aging cohort study. The study looked at how waist-to-hip ratio was connected to cognitive performance. Waist-to-hip ratio is a measurement which indicates visceral adiposity, or belly fat. It is generally known that this particular type of body fat is associated with increased metabolic risk, cardiovascular disease and inflammation.
Waist-to-hip ratio was associated with decreased cognitive function
The waist-to-hip ratio was associated with decreased cognitive function. However, the BMI (body mass index) was seen as a protective measure of cognitive function. The explanation for this has to do with BMI being a cruder measurement of body fat, that doesn’t consider fat-free body mass (muscle), which in this case may be a protective element to cognitive health.
- Ntlholang O, Mccarroll K, Laird E, et al. The relationship between adiposity and cognitive function in a large community-dwelling population: data from the Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture (TUDA) ageing cohort study. Br J Nutr. 2018;:1-11.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.