Obesity Slows Cognitive Performance in Older Adults
Posted June 5, 2012
Seoul (dpa) - Fat people between the ages of 60 and 70 years are
less intelligent than thin people, according to a new study published
in the South Korean journal Age and Ageing.
There was insufficient evidence to find a correlation with people
older than 70, according to the study that found people with a lot of
abdominal fat showed lower cognitive performance. The study noted
that the fat tissue immediately under the skin - subcutaneous fat -
had no such influence.
"Our findings have important public health implications. The
prevention of obesity, particularly central obesity, might be
important for the prevention of cognitive decline or dementia,"
according to Dae Hyun Yoon of the Psychiatric Department of the
National University in Seoul.
Avoiding obesity, in particular around the abdomen, could be a way
of countering dementia, the study concluded.
The researchers analysed data on weight and waist circumference in
250 subjects older than 60 in South Korea. The study included body
mass index (BMI) measurements that relate height to weight, and using
computer tomography on the abdominal region.
The researchers found a statistical correlation between abdominal
obesity (visceral adiposity) and intelligence in the group, without
finding a discernible cause-and-effect relationship.
Although previous studies had discovered a similar relationship, a
larger study was necessary to confirm the results, the team said.
Abdominal fat, as opposed to subcutaneous fat, tended to lead to
problems with metabolizing sugars and fats, it said.
"The study showed that a high BMI was linked to the risk of lower
cognitive performance in adults between 60 and 70," the authors
wrote. In the case of participants older than 70, no link could be
found between either abdominal fat or subcutaneous fat and
This showed that the link between visceral adiposity (abdominal
fat) and reduced cognitive performance disappeared with age.
Cognitive ability was tested by means of the so-called Mini Mental
State Examination, which requires the subjects to answer simple
questions that test understanding of time, space, language and motor
skills in about 10 minutes.
Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH