A Gentle Reminder That Fat Will Eat Your Mind

That excess visceral fat you're carrying causes chronic low-level inflammation, which damages you in all sorts of ways. One of those ways is atherosclerosis, which tends to up and kill you without warning. In fact, eating all the food required to gain a large amount of visceral fat causes a feedback loop in your metabolism that spirals down into insulin resistance and diabetes - both of which make the effects of having a lot of visceral fat that much worse and that much more rapid.

But that extra fat won't just make you much more prone to be frail, and it won't just try to kill you - it'll also eat your mind. Researchers are coming to view Alzheimer's disease as analogous to diabetes, a result of lifestyle choices for most, touching on many of the same metabolic processes as diabetes, and the risk factors seem to be much the same.

Big Bellies Linked to Alzheimer's Disease:

The study of more than 6,000 people found the more fat they had in their guts in their early to mid-40s the greater their chances of becoming forgetful or confused or showing other signs of senility as they aged. Those who had the most impressive midsections faced more than twice the risk of the leanest.

Surprisingly, a sizable stomach seems to increase the risk even among those who are not obese, or even overweight


The research is the latest evidence that fat in the abdomen is the most dangerous kind. Previous studies have linked the apple-shaped physique to a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Researchers suspect that those fat cells are the worst because of their proximity to major organs. They ooze noxious chemicals, stoking inflammation, constricting blood vessels and triggering other processes that might also damage brain cells.

"There is a lot of work out there that suggests that the fat wrapped around your inner organs is much more metabolically active than other types of fat right under the skin," Whitmer said. "It's pumping out toxic substances. It's very potent toxic fat."

Another excellent reason to take care of the health basics - a responsible level of diet and exercise - before your body sabotages your mind. The longer you leave it, the more damage you're creating, and the more you're cutting from your likely healthspan.


This is a good reminder to carve up the ol' adonis belt. I already knew well enough that dying would make my mind go, but to know it could go even prior to death due to this sucks.

You have to wonder how much of this is due to the visceral fat and not circumstantial secondary effects of having it, though.

For example, we know a heightened metabolism creates age-accelerating problems everywhere including the brain. I've read studies showing that added weight as fat actually heigthens the metabolism more than added weight being carried in a backpack. This is likely due to it swinging around a lot, as they were measuring calories expended on a treadmill. It likely also enhances it due to having to deal with the inflammation, which we know visceral fat causes.

Abdominal fat is also for the most part in society considered to be unattractive. While this may be an evolutionary response in regards to the real dangers associated with it, this negative response I think actually makes it worse for people who already have the problem. Due to being perceived as ugly, people are going to have emotional problems which adds a stress to the person and probably shortens lifespan. In the same sene, having a cut-up attractive midsection makes people very happy and makes them feel confident, which probably extends lifespan.

Posted by: Tyciol at June 15th, 2008 5:17 PM

Nice piece. One of the most striking changes of the past twenty years or so,at least that I've noticed, has been the new emphasis on inflammation as a danger to health.

When I was a child I assumed that inflammation was good: my parents told me that it was the body's reaction to attack, the way the body cleaned up after scrapes and stuff, and to some extent I'm sure that's true. More recently, however, we have notions like gum disease being a cause of heart disease through the inflammation linkage, and aspirin being protective by being an anti-inflammatory.

The research has certainly caused a change in me. I remember a friend telling me that aspirin addicts didn't get heart attacks, in 1959 or so. At the time I simply filed that as an oddity, the more important part being, I thought, that there were such things as aspirin-addicts. In fact aspirin is comparatively dangerous, killing maybe 800 or so people a year in North America. Later, though, as I learned more -- and as more research got done -- inflammation registered on my radar, and I've been taking aspirin regularly since maybe 1984, and baby aspirin religiously for the past ten years or so.


Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones at July 24th, 2011 8:14 PM
Comment Submission

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.