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Health Research

March 26, 2008

A Larger Abdomen in Midlife Increases Risk of Dementia, Study Shows

Division of ResearchPeople in their 40s with larger stomachs have a greater risk for dementia when they reach their 70s, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published online March 26.

Researchers studied 6,583 people ages 40-45 in Northern California who had their abdominal density measured using a caliper. An average of 36 years later, 16 percent of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia.

The Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study was published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study is particularly noteworthy given the prevalence of obesity among adults in America has increased dramatically since 1980, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Considering that 50 percent of adults in this country have abdominal obesity, this is a disturbing finding,” said Rachel Whitmer, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Department of Research. “It is well known that being overweight in midlife and beyond increases risk factors for disease. However, where one carries the weight – especially in midlife – appears to be an important predictor for dementia risk.”

For details, read this press release.