Another reason to maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight in midlife may accelerate aging in the brain, according to a study in Neurology, which included 1,289 middle-aged and older adults (average age 64).
Those with a higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference at the start of the study were more likely to have greater thinning in the brain’s cortex region than those with lower body weight, as assessed by an MRI scan six years later. Having a thinner cortex has been linked with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The more overweight the individual, the greater the average amount of thinning; that was especially true for obese people (BMI of 30 or higher), among whom every unit increase in BMI was associated with a 0.2 millimeter thinner cortex. (For context, the cortex thins between 0.01 and 0.1 millimeter per decade in normal aging adults.)
BMI and waist circumference were associated with cortical thinning even after the researchers controlled for other factors that can affect the brain, including high blood pressure, alcohol use, and smoking.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
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