You've heard the message: Having a bulging belly can be detrimental to your health. Extra weight around the midsection is known to increase one's risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and early death. Now a new study, published today in the journal Neurology, suggests that having a larger belly in middle age may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
The new study, which was based on data from more than 6,500 members of Kaiser Permanente in California, shows that "where you carry weight, more [so] than your total body weight, is a good predictor of dementia," says lead author Rachel Whitmer, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente. "You can have a healthy body mass index but have a risk of dementia due to belly fat." Study participants were ages 40 to 45 when they entered the study between 1964 and 1973, and some were followed until 2006, when they were as old as 87.
Fifty percent of adults have "central obesity," or fat that has accumulated around their midsections, according to the new study. So what can you do to get rid of the extra weight? U.S. News asked Whitmer and Robert Reames, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer and nutritionist for the Gold's Gym Fitness Institute, for advice on how to reduce a bulging stomach.