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.
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.