Bigger Belly, Smaller Brain?

Body fat and brain health may be related.

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Apr 22, 2019

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, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at

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