New study reveals how too much belly fat might be making your brain smaller

New study reveals how too much belly fat might be making your brain smaller

Ah, belly fat.

Scroll down on any website, and before long, you'll see the dreaded ad promising you the ways to reduce the stuff, so you can finally get that six pack - or at least get rid of that gut. There's a reason we see tips on eradicating belly fat wherever we go on the internet, folks: it's unsightly, yes, but it's also terrible for your health.

Obesity is one of the leading causes of not only heart disease and diabetes, but also various forms of cancer, and it's in your best interest to have as little as possible. But a new study says that there's a whole new form of malady brought about by that spare tire around your waist.

Belly fat Credit: Getty

You're going to want to pay attention for this, folks.

A study published in the journal Neurology says that in addition to all of that laundry list of health issues we mentioned above, your belly fat might also be making your brain smaller. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

In the study, researchers took a look at 9,652 participants with an average age of 55, taking note of their Body Mass Index (BMI), comparing it to the type of grey matter and white matter in the brain. Grey matter is the dark tissue in our brain where neurones are located, and synapses are made, while white matter's the tissue that connects different bits of grey matter together.

Human brain Credit: Getty

When we get older, our grey matter and white matter decreases, in the process increasing our risk for brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer's or dementia, and it turns out that those with a higher BMI also had less of their grey matter present.

In a press release, study author Mark Hamer PhD of Loughborough University confirmed the results, but stopped short of saying that obesity could have a direct correlation with your risk of contracting either Alzheimer's or dementia later on in life.

While our study found obesity, especially around the middle, was associated with lower gray matter brain volumes, it’s unclear if abnormalities in brain structure lead to obesity or if obesity leads to these changes in the brain. We also found links between obesity and shrinkage in specific regions of the brain."

Belly fat Credit: Getty

That being said, even if you're not on the higher side of the BMI scale, it's still important to have as little as possible of it.

Lawrence Cheskin, MD, chair of the department of Nutrition and Food studies at George Mason University and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, explained that belly fat is one of the most active types of fat: "Belly fat is unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat."

Well then - what more incentive do you need to lose belly fat? If you're looking to shed the pounds this New Year, it's a great idea to cut down on sugar and other refined carbs, while chowing down on plenty of protein and fibre.