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Central Obesity in Midlife Increases Dementia Risk

Relationship independent of body mass index

THURSDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Central obesity in midlife appears to increase the risk of dementia in later life, independent of diabetes and other cardiovascular comorbidities, according to an article published online March 26 in Neurology.

Rachel A. Whitmer, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues studied the link between central obesity and dementia by examining data from 6,583 members of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California who had sagittal abdominal diameter measurements taken between 1964 and 1973. The researchers analyzed medical records dated 1994 to 2006, an average follow-up of 36 years, to identify subsequent cases of dementia.

In all, 1,049 participants (15.9 percent) were diagnosed with dementia, the researchers report. Compared with individuals with midlife abdominal diameter in the lowest quintile, individuals with measurements in the highest quintile had a nearly threefold increased risk of dementia (hazard ratio 2.72). Even after controlling for body mass index, the relationship between abdominal diameter in midlife and dementia remained significant (hazard ratio of highest abdominal diameter quintile, 1.92).

These findings "contribute to a recent but growing body of evidence that a centralized distribution of adiposity is particularly dangerous, even for those who are not overweight, and that the brain may also be a target organ to the harmful effects of central obesity," the authors conclude.

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