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The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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A Bigger Belly May Make You Forget

Posted April 07, 2008 12:00 AM by Sharkles

We hear it all the time; extra weight is not good for our bodies. News reports, magazines, and doctors tell us that carrying extra weight puts us at risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and a number of other health problems. On March 26, the journal Neurology even released a study which claims that extra abdominal fat puts people at risk for dementia, a progressive loss of cognitive functions that is associated with brain injury. Specifically, Neurology reported that the percentage of abdominal fat in midlife correlates with the risk of being diagnosed with dementia; the higher the percentage, the higher the risk. Some researchers even suggest that abdominal weight can be a bigger risk factor than family history.

In the Neurology study, the nonprofit organization Kaiser Permanente examined the medical records of 6,583 people between the ages of 40 and 50, from the 1960's and 1970's. By 2006, 15.9% of the sample had been diagnosed with dementia. Other statistics show that 324.3 of 1,000 overweight patients have developed dementia, while 214.6 out of 1,000 patients with a normal weight developed a type of mental disorder. Rachel Whitmer, research scientist at Kaiser Permanente, says that where you carry excess fat is more of a predictor than actual body weight. "You can have a healthy body mass index but have a risk of dementia due to belly fat", she explains.

Unfortunately, researchers aren't exactly sure how visceral fat affects the human brain. One hypothesis is that since abdominal fats may be metabolically active, they accelerate the spread of toxins and cause atherosclerosis in the brain. Typically, this condition is seen in individuals with Alzheimer's disease.

What can be done to reduce the risk of dementia?

Find Out if You Are At Risk – The Mayo Clinic says that in men, the risk of dementia affects those with a waist size of 40 inches or more. With women, the risk comes with a belly that is 35 inches or more; however, other researchers claim that 33 or 34 inches can also be risky. To find where you stand, use a measuring tape and breathe normally. Pull the tape around your midsection at navel level.

Exercise Regularly – We hear this advice all the time, but it's true. Moving your body is an essential part of staying healthy. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you move more and eat less, belly fat is the first kind of fat to go. The best part of getting exercise is that it can also act as a stress-buster. Stress can cause over-eating, anxiety, and loss of sleep – all of which contribute to extra belly-weight.

Pay Attention to What You're Eating – Nobody wants to hear a list of things they cannot eat, so the best advice may be "everything in moderation, even moderation". Instead of reaching for that bag of Doritos mid-afternoon, have an apple! Eating healthier, smaller portions can help you lose weight and make you feel better. Your body – and brain – will thank you.

Resources:
https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/health/research/01risk.html?ref=health
https://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-sci-dementia27mar27,1,2099723.story
https://www.emaxhealth.com/109/21367.html
https://health.usnews.com/articles/health/brain-and-behavior/2008/03/26/belly-fat-is-linked-to-dementia-risk.html

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#1

Re: A Bigger Belly May Make You Forget

04/08/2008 5:04 AM

The reality is that it is a self imposed dementia, of isolation from reality, because these fat people can't even bear the way they look - that is UGLY.

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#2

Re: A Bigger Belly May Make You Forget

04/08/2008 5:45 AM

Actually two effects of a common cause -- drinking too much beer!

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Anonymous Poster
#3

Re: A Bigger Belly May Make You Forget

04/08/2008 7:50 AM

I know that I have forgotten what my feet look like...

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: A Bigger Belly May Make You Forget

04/08/2008 7:53 AM

Yeah, I bought one of those big ol' belt buckles so I can find it by groping.

When are these supposed scientists going to learn that a correlation does not prove cause and effect? Why isn't this basic principle of statistics taught in school?

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#5

Re: A Bigger Belly May Make You Forget

05/03/2008 7:01 PM

As a disabled veteran I have been fighting this for over 30 years. The pain prevent me from excerising much so I eat very little often only omce a day. I live on a little protien and veggies. The medications even interfer with digestion so I somehomw put on weight from time to time.

Once in a while about every 3 months I go on a eating beign and eat 3 meals a day for a week or so then back to 1 meal a day. Can't get back to my normal weight of 180 but stay around 250. It is killing my knees and my back not to mention my heart.

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#6

Re: A Bigger Belly May Make You Forget

08/27/2008 10:14 AM

They say that every 1 pound of added weight adds 4 pounds of pressure on your knees. I know that when I go running, often my knees and my back limit my distance more than cardiovascular fitness.

The health and fitness sector is developing newer low-gravity treadmills that are supposed to take a large percentage of your body weight off of your body, allowing people who have injuries or are overweight to be able to exercise longer and be able to better control weight.

I know since having knee issues and then surgery that it has been very difficult to keep weight off, and the more weight makes it even harder to run, thus creating a very bad spiral and somewhat quickly.

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#7

Re: A Bigger Belly May Make You Forget

11/01/2008 6:02 PM

Well, I'll always be able to remember what it's like when my belly and moobs jiggle with my every movement...

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