Women's health * 50+ health * Mental wellbeing

Waist fat raises dementia risk in women

No link to BMI found

Women who carry fat on their waist in middle age are more than twice as likely to develop dementia when they get older, new research has found.

"Anyone carrying a lot of fat around the middle is at greater risk of dying prematurely due to a heart attack or stroke," says Dr. Deborah Gustafson from the the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden.

"If they nevertheless manage to live beyond 70, they run a greater risk of dementia."

The research was based on information from the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, which started at the end of the 1960s.

Almost 1,500 women between the ages of 38 and 60 were given a health check up and filled in questionnaires about their health and lifestyle.

After 32 years, 161 women had developed dementia, with the average age of diagnosis being 75.

The study results, published in the journal Neurology, found that women whose waists measured more than their hips in middle age had more than double the risk of developing dementia when they got old.

However, the researchers could find no link between dementia and high body mass index (BMI).

"Other studies have shown that a high BMI is also linked to dementia, but this was not the case in ours," Dr. Gustafson said.

"This may be because obesity and overweight were relatively unusual among the women who took part in the Prospective Population Study," she added.

This article was published on Wed 25 November 2009

Image © © Karen Roach - Fotolia.com

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