This latest medical study puts one in mind of the old Henny Youngman joke: Doctor: You’re fat.
Patient: I want a second opinion.
Doctor: OK, you’re ugly, too.
Researchers have found a strong link between having a big belly in your 40s and having Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia in your 70s.
People who were obese — 30 or more pounds overweight and had substantial belly fat — were 3.6 times more likely to get dementia. And even if you watched your weight and had a healthy Body Mass Index — but had a gut — you were still almost twice as likely to get dementia.
The study’s author, Kaiser Permanente researcher Rachel Whitmer, said, “A large belly, independent of weight, is a potent predictor of dementia.”
Her study involved catching up with 6,583 men and women, now ages 73 to 87, who had checkups when they were between 40 and 45.
The culprit clearly appears to be belly fat, with its close proximity to the major vital organs, and the belly fat may even emit toxic substances that damage the brain. Fat thighs, on the other hand, may be unscenic but not necessarily unhealthy.
This study goes on that groaning shelf of research linking fat to heart disease, diabetes and strokes.
The solution, inevitably, is diet and exercise, but this study gives a pretty good reason for doing so: Literally, you could be crazy not to.