Study Links Female Body Shape To Brain Function

Obesity lessens brain function for women with certain body shapes. Depending on where the fat is stored, brain function changes accordingly. This new study of 8,745 cognitively normal, post-menopausal women ages 65 to 79 has just been released from Northwestern Medicine. Researchers are saying that women who carry weight on their hips (pear shaped) are prone to diminished brain function, vs women who carry fat on their stomachs (apple shaped).

“The message is obesity and a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) are not good for your cognition and your memory,” explained the study’s lead author Diana Kerwin, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine and a physician at Northwestern Medicine. “While the women’s scores were still in the normal range, the added weight definitely had a detrimental effect.” “Obesity is bad, but its effects are worse depending on where the fat is located,” Kerwin said. Different hormones are realeased by fat depending on its location on the body, which in turn effects the entire body, or in this case it appears to effect brain function. “We need to find out if one kind of fat is more detrimental than the other, and how it affects brain function,” Kerwin said. “The fat may contribute to the formation of plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease or a restricted blood flow to the brain.” “The study tells us if we have a woman in our office, and we know from her waist-to-hip ratio that she’s carrying excess fat on her hips, we might be more aggressive with weight loss,” Kerwin added.

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