19 May 2005

Obese women 'lose brain tissue'

Women who are obese throughout their life are more likely to lose brain tissue, researchers have found.

This loss is one of the first indications a person is going to develop dementia.

Carrying extra weight was a risk even if other factors, such as diabetes, were taken into account.

The researchers, from the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden, is published in the journal Neurology.

Nerve cell damage

Whether or not a person is of a healthy weight is determined by their BMI, or body mass index.

This is calculated by dividing the square of your height in metres by your weight in kilograms. A BMI of over 25 is classed as overweight, and over 30 as obese.

Just under 300 women aged between 46 and 60 were studied over 24 years.

Every six years, researchers carried out computer tomography (CT) scans to study their brain tissue and calculated their BMI.

The study found that the higher the women's BMI, the greater the chance they would experience brain tissue loss, known as cerebral atrophy.

Being overweight also raised a woman's chances of being affected, the study found.

Almost 50% of the women were found to have lost temporal lobe tissue. The average BMI in that group was higher than that in the unaffected group throughout the study.

The research team say the results are consistent with their previous findings showing that being overweight was a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

continued via the BBC

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