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Visceral Fat, Total Brain Volume Inversely Associated

Last Updated: May 24, 2010.

In middle-aged adults, abdominal fat -- especially visceral fat -- is inversely associated with total brain volume, according to research published online May 20 in the Annals of Neurology.

MONDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- In middle-aged adults, abdominal fat -- especially visceral fat -- is inversely associated with total brain volume, according to research published online May 20 in the Annals of Neurology.

Stephanie Debette, M.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a study of 733 participants from the Framingham Offspring cohort. All participants had anthropometric and CT-based measurements to evaluate body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat. Total brain volume (TCBV) was measured by magnetic resonance imaging.

The researchers found significant inverse associations of BMI, WC, WHR, subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat with TCBV, with the strongest relationship being that with visceral fat. When adjusted for BMI and insulin resistance, this relationship remained robust. When all of the relationships with TCBV were adjusted for C-reactive protein level, the associations were weakened.

"Several studies on samples of <300 individuals have recently suggested an association of BMI and obesity with lower total or regional brain volumes, in both older persons and younger or middle-aged adults. Our study confirms the inverse association of increasing body mass with lower total brain volume and extends it to a large cohort of >700 middle-aged community participants. More importantly, our data suggest that the association is stronger for central obesity versus global adiposity, and is particularly prominent and robust for the visceral fat component of abdominal obesity," the authors write.

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