Hidden belly fat may be an indicator of Alzheimer's, study shows

Hidden belly fat may be an indicator of Alzheimer's, study shows

Belly fat may be linked to the early stages of Alzheimer's disease decades before symptoms start, a new study has found.

"We know that as the size of the abdomen gets bigger, the memory centers in the brain get smaller," said Alzheimer's disease researcher Dr. Richard Isaacson, a neurologist at the Florida Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

The study found that individuals in their 40s and 50s with a greater amount of hidden belly fat "had a higher amount of an abnormal protein called amyloid in a part of the brain that we we know it's one of the earliest places where Alzheimer's appears," said Dr. Cyrus Raji, author of the study.

Amyloid beta plaques in the brain are one of the main signs of Alzheimer's.

The study also found a link between belly fat and brain atrophy, or loss of gray matter, in a part of the brain's memory center called the hippocampus.

"This is important because brain atrophy is another biomarker of Alzheimer's disease," Raji said.

The gray matter of the brain contains most of the brain cells that tell the body what to do. White matter is made up of fibers, usually distributed in bundles called tracts, which form connections between brain cells and the rest of the nervous system.

Without a functional white matter highway, the brain cannot adequately communicate with different parts of the brain and body.