More Visceral Fat, Greater Cognitive Decline in Later Life

Modern studies of the effects of excess body weight on long term health use measures, such as waist circumference or weight-adjusted waist index, that are more sensitive to visceral fat than subcutaneous fat. Excess visceral fat in the abdomen is actively harmful, in large part via causing an increased level of chronic inflammation via a variety of distinct mechanisms. Chronic inflammation accelerates the onset and drives the progression of neurodegenerative conditions, and thus might be expected to correlate with cognitive decline.

Some studies suggest that excessive obesity can lead to cognitive decline and dementia. In the relation between obesity and low cognitive performance, the area of distribution of obesity (e.g., central or overall) may be important. However, some common obesity measurement indices, like body mass index (BMI), lack sensitivity in identifying body fat distribution. Based on this, a new index for assessing obesity called the WWI (weight-adjusted waist index), has been proposed to evaluate obesity by weight-standardized waist circumference. The WWI can reflect weight-independent central obesity and has better accuracy than BMI.

A cross-sectional research study was carried out with information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2014. This research looked at the connection between the WWI and three tests of low cognitive function in US civilians. In this cross-sectional study which recruited 2,762 individuals aged 60 years and over, the authors found a marked correlation between the WWI and low cognition, and this correlation was not significantly dependent on age, sex, race, education, BMI, smoke, drink, hypertension, or diabetes. In a model with all adjustments, a positive relationship was found between the WWI and poor cognitive function.


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