A Korean study has found that obesity in later life puts people at higher risk of brain decline.
The study included 250 people aged between 60 and 70 found those with a high body mass index (BMI) and big waists scored more poorly in cognitive tests.
The Alzheimer’s Society said the research, published in the journal Age and Ageing, added to evidence that excess body fat can affect brain function.
Lifestyle changes can help make a difference, it said.
The study looked at the relationship between fat levels and cognitive performance in adults aged 60 or over.
The participants underwent BMI – a calculation based on a ratio of weight to height – and waist circumference measurements, a scan of fat stored in the abdomen and a mental test.
Both a high BMI and high levels of abdominal fat were linked with poor cognitive performance in adults aged between 60 and 70.
In individuals aged 70 and older, high BMI, waist circumference and abdominal body fat were not associated with low cognitive performance.
The lead author of the study, Dae Hyun Yoon, said: “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.”