Having too much fat around organs might raise the chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease, says a new study. This kind of fat doesn’t always appear if you look at a person’s weight.
Visceral fat, which can gather around organs even in people with healthy weights, is connected to changes in the brain. The study shared at a meeting suggests these changes might happen years before memory problems appear.
The study found that people with more of this kind of fat had more of certain substances in their brains linked to Alzheimer’s. This fat has been linked to body inflammation and higher insulin levels, which are considered part of Alzheimer’s development.
The researchers suggest we look beyond usual measures like body mass index (BMI) and focus on where fat is in the body to understand health risks better.
Spotting this kind of fat usually needs an MRI scan, but there are signs you might have it, like a bigger waist than hips or high blood sugar.
About 6 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, and by 2050, it could be 13 million.
The study examined data from 54 healthy adults between 40 and 60. Even if their BMI was in the obese range, the study found those with more of this fat around their organs might be at higher risk for Alzheimer’s.
The researchers plan to follow up on the study to see how this fat might affect people’s brains in the long run.
Exercising, especially aerobic exercises, is recommended to reduce this fat, especially around organs. It’s unclear whether losing this fat can reverse its impact on the brain.
Experts say this study is small but a good start, especially in understanding how to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s risk. Still, they caution against rushing for scans until more research confirms the link.
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