Obesity linked to worsening cognitive function in older men

Washington, Mar 10: Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco have found that older men with higher levels of fat are more likely to experience declines in cognitive function, but the same link does not appear to occur in women.

For the study, Alka M. Kanaya, M.D., of the university and colleagues looked at 3,054 elderly individuals enrolled in the Health ABC Study.

Participants' adiposity (fat level) was assessed by body mass index, waist circumference, sagittal diameter (distance between the back and the highest point of the abdomen), total fat mass and subcutaneous (beneath the skin) and visceral fat (fat between the internal organs) measured by computed tomography.

The researchers found that men whose measurements were higher were more likely to experience declines in scores on a cognitive functioning test administered at the beginning of the study and again after three, five and eight years. However, no link was observed in women.

"Women show trends toward inverse associations, with higher levels of adiposity being associated with less cognitive change," the authors said.

"Traditional metabolic factors, adipocytokines [compounds produced by fat tissue] and sex hormones do not explain this sex difference. Future studies should confirm these longitudinal associations with adiposity and cognitive change and investigate why adiposity has inverse associations in men and women," they added.

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