London: Being obese in older age may lead to poor brain health as higher waist-hip ratio was associated with reduced cognitive function, according to a study.
The association could be explained by an increased secretion of inflammatory markers by belly fat, which has been previously associated with a higher risk of impaired cognition.
Previous studies showed that people who are overweight do not perform as well on tests of memory and visuospatial ability compared to those with an average weight.
"While we have known for some time that obesity is associated with negative health consequences, our study adds to emerging evidence suggesting that obesity and where we deposit our excess weight could influence our brain health. This has significant public health implications," said Conal Cunningham from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland.
For the study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the team analysed data from over 5,000 individuals.
These findings may have significant implications as the global prevalence of dementia is predicted to increase from 24.3 million in 2001 to 81.1 million by 2040.
Reducing obesity could offer a cost-effective public health strategy for the prevention of cognitive decline, the researchers noted.