A large Korean population study recently published in the journal Obesity found that abdominal obesity, as measured by waist circumference, was associated with significantly higher risk of dementia. The study included over 872,000 participants aged 65 years and older.
Participants with waist circumference of 90 centimeters (cm) or above for men and 85 cm or above for women (about 35 and 33.5 inches, respectively) showed a significantly higher risk of dementia even after adjustment for other variables. The lowest risk for dementia was observed in older men with waist circumference of 65 to 70 cm and in older women with waist circumference of 75 to 80 cm. (The particular waist measurements associated with dementia could be different in people of non-Korean ethnicity.)
Results of previous studies on this topic using Body Mass Index (BMI) have varied. The authors of this study point out that the waist circumference measure utilized in their study is a more accurate indicator of harmful abdominal visceral fat (the kind of fat that builds up in and around organs). Keeping body weight down to reduce waist circumference may be a powerful tool in protecting brain health.