Belly fat in seniors can lead to poor memory, cognitive decline, and even Alzheimer’s disease and dementia; a study reports. Currently, approximately 47 million people worldwide are affected by dementia. And as the number of senior citizens rises, so does the number of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.This number is expected to rise to 75 million by 2030.
Dementias, including Alzheimer’s, are the focus of current extensive research looking for a drug cure. But, until that drug is found, a senior citizen should make a lifestyle change to exercise and eat healthy. A major risk factor for Alzheimer’s is obesity.
Belly Fat: Study Results In Aging Population
Scientists in Dublin, Ireland tested over 5000 seniors, aged 60 and older on a range of cognitive tasks. They found that individuals with a higher waist-to-hip ratio, a measure of obesity, displayed reduced cognitive performance and poorer memory.
Belly Fat: How Does It Affect Memory?
The scientists believe that belly fat affects memory by increasing the secretion of inflammatory markers, in particular, C-reactive protein. This chemical is produced in response to signals sent out by fat cells. Increased fat cell levels have previously been linked to a decline in cognitive performance and memory.
In addition, previous research reported that inflammatory markers in the blood increase as a precursor to dementia symptoms.
Another important molecule in the relationship between belly fat and dementia is hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C). In fact, when researchers controlled for levels of HbA1C, the significant effect of belly fat on cognition and memory disappeared.
HbA1C is a form of hemoglobin that is used to measure average blood glucose concentrations in people with diabetes. Reduced cognitive ability and memory has been found in people with diabetes.
Because both obesity and cognitive decline are huge burdens on individuals and families, reducing levels of obesity, may reduce Alzheimer’s and dementia rates in aging populations.