A recent study has found a correlation between excess body fat and decreased cognitive function. Published in the journal of JAMA Network Open, the study deduced that excess body weight is a high risk factor of lower cognitive abilities. 

The study was conducted on 9,166 participants by measuring with bioelectrical impedance analysis in order to analyze their total body fat. 

The visceral or abdominal fat of 6,733 of the participants was measured through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The procedure also assessed vascular brain injury and areas of the brain affected by lower blood flow.

“Our results suggest that strategies to prevent or reduce having too much body fat may preserve cognitive function,” said lead author Sonia Anand, a professor of medicine of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and a vascular medicine specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences. 

She added, “The effect of increased body fat persisted even after adjusting for its effect on increasing cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as vascular brain injury, which should prompt researchers to investigate which other pathways may link excess fat to reduced cognitive function.”

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Eric Smith, co-author, neurologist, scientist, and associate professor of clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary stated that “preserving cognitive function is one of the best ways to prevent dementia in old age.”

“This study suggests that one of the ways that good nutrition and physical activity prevent dementia maybe by maintaining healthy weight and body fat percentage,” Smith added. 

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The participants of the study belonged to the age range of 30 to 75 with an average age of about 58. Over 56% of participants were women hailing from Poland or Canada. The majority of participants were of Caucasian origin, with about 16% belonging to other ethnicities. Individuals diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases were excluded from the study.