Not that we needed another reason, but having seen dementia firsthand, it does give me just another little push to stay on my maintenance track for life.
Having a large gut in midlife increases the chance of dementia in old age, according to new research published Wednesday that suggests that abdominal fat is a bigger risk factor than even family history.
The study of 6,583 adults found that people with the highest amount of abdominal fat between the ages of 40 and 45 were about three times more likely to develop dementia than those with the lowest amount.
By contrast, people who have parents or a sibling with Alzheimer's face twice the risk of developing the disease.
Whitmer said scientists did not know how abdominal fat might contribute to the risk of dementia.
One theory is that hormones and proteins released by abdominal fat spur the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are associated with Alzheimer's. Abdominal fat is more biologically active than fat located in other areas of the body, she said.
Another possibility, Whitmer said, is that dementia is not directly related to abdominal fat but is linked to obesity-related diseases such as stroke, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.