A study of 6,583 people in northern California measured their abdominal fat between the ages of 40 and 45 then followed them up an average of 36 years later. By that time 16% of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia. A pot belly increased the risk of dementia regardless of whether the participants were of normal weight, overweight or obese and regardless of existing health conditions including diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Those who were overweight with a large belly were at 2.3 times greater risk while those who were obese with a large belly were at 3.6 times greater risk. Women were more likely than men to have abdominal obesity, along with non-whites, smokers, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes and those who were less well educated.
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