Excess body fat stored primarily in the abdominal area has been linked with lower gray-matter brain volume, according to a report in Neurology (2019; doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000006879).

Loughborough University researchers in Leicestershire, England, made this finding after analyzing data from 9,652 adults with an average age of 55. Those whose body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio were both high had less gray matter in the brain than people who did not have a high waist-to-hip ratio.

“It’s unclear if abnormalities in brain structure lead to obesity or if obesity leads to these changes in the brain,” said lead study author Mark Hamer, PhD, chair in exercise as medicine. More research is recommended.

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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