Weight gain hurts memory, research says
Need another reason to avoid gaining weight? Well, new research has found that the more an older woman weighs, the worse her memory.
Diana Kerwin of Northwestern University and colleagues studied 8,745 normal post-menopausal women ages 65 to 79 who participated in the Women's Health Initiative, a massive federal study examining a host of health issues.
For every one-point increase in a woman's body mass index (BMI), her score on a 100-point memory test dropped by one point, the researchers reported last week in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
But here's the really interesting part. Where a woman put on the pounds may be key, the researchers found. Women who are shaped more like pears -- meaning they gained weight in their hips -- tend to experience more memory problems than those shaped like apples because they put on the pounds around their waist. Unfortunately, as we all know, the hips are where women tend to gain weight.
The findings may help explain why previous studies that have looked at weight and brain function have produced mixed results, the researchers say.
The reason is unclear, but it might be that fat deposited around the hips generates higher levels of hormones known as cytokines, which can cause inflammation, affecting brain function.
July 21, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Mental Health , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity
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