Drug News

Abdominal Fat’s Surprising Effect on Brain Volume in Middle Age – Study

New research has unveiled compelling evidence linking abdominal fat to reduced brain volumes, especially those regions responsible for cognitive function. In a substantial study involving healthy middle-aged adults, it was found that greater amounts of both visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat, as observed in abdominal MRI scans, correlated with brain atrophy as seen in brain imaging, with this relationship being more pronounced in women.

Dr. Cyrus Raji, the lead author of the study from the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, emphasized the significance of these findings. He stated, “The study shows that excess fat is bad for the brain and worse in women, including in Alzheimer’s disease risk regions.”

This groundbreaking study, published online on August 28 in the journal Aging and Disease, addresses a critical knowledge gap by investigating the connection between different types of body fat (visceral and subcutaneous) and brain volume.

The research involved a diverse cohort of 10,000 healthy adults ranging from 20 to 80 years old, with an average age of 52.9 years and 53% being men. These participants underwent a comprehensive whole-body MRI protocol. The researchers conducted regression analyses to assess the relationship between abdominal fat types and normalized brain volumes while adjusting for age and sex.

The study’s findings revealed that higher levels of both visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat were associated with lower total gray and white matter volumes. Notably, regions vital for cognitive function, such as the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and various lobes of the brain (temporal, parietal, and occipital), also exhibited reduced volume in individuals with more abdominal fat.

Dr. Raji remarked, “The findings are quite dramatic. Overall, we found that both subcutaneous and visceral fat have similar levels of negative relationships with brain volumes.” However, it was observed that women experienced a more substantial burden of brain atrophy as visceral fat increased compared to men. The researchers note that further research is needed to fully understand these sex differences since there is limited prior work specifically examining visceral fat, brain volume loss, and sex variations in this context.

It’s worth noting that while statistically significant relationships were identified between visceral fat levels and changes in gray matter volume, the effect sizes were generally small. This suggests that the statistical significance of these findings is partly due to the large sample size rather than the magnitude of the observed effects in specific brain regions.

The study does have some limitations, including its cross-sectional nature, which means that it cannot establish causality. Additionally, the analysis did not account for other lifestyle factors such as physical activity, diet, and genetic variables, which may influence the relationship between abdominal fat and brain health.

In light of these findings, the researchers call for further investigations to delve into the underlying mechanisms and identify potential interventions aimed at reducing abdominal fat as a strategy to preserve brain health. Understanding the complex relationship between body fat distribution and brain health could have far-reaching implications for preventing cognitive decline and improving overall well-being. You may also find useful information on How Abdominal Fat Affects Crohn’s and Colitis Medications – Study


Dr Chinenye Otorkpa

Dr. Chinenye Otorkpa is a Family Physician with a passion for women and children's well-being. She holds a Master's degree in International Public health from Liverpool John Moores University and an active membership in the World Association of Family Physicians (WONCA). She combines her medical expertise and global network connections to provide holistic healthcare.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker