Belly Fat Linked To Higher Risk of Dementia

Action News first told you about a surprising new study released yesterday that said belly fat could be linked to Alzheimer's disease.

The research revealed today showed how scientists believe visceral fat could increase the risk of dementia.

We talked to Kathy Daly who teaches piano at her Madera home but the sweetest sound is when people comment about her drastic change.

Just a few years ago she weighted 200 pounds, putting stress on her 5-foot-two frame. Kathy said three pregnancies and not making the best food choices took their toll.

Daly said, "I feel like I ate like a kid for a lot of years and now I'm an adult and eat like an adult."

That means cutting out sugary, fatty foods and concentrating on healthy eating and exercise.

And it turns out the 43-year-old may have saved more than just her waistline.

A new study from Kaiser Permanente research said excessive belly fat in your 40's could be linked to developing dementia in your 70's. Even researchers were surprised by what they found.

Rachel Whitmer, PhD, the lead investigator on the study at Kaiser Permanente Research said, "It's not only your weight but where you carry your weight that is a greater risk factor for dementia. We've known that it's a greater risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease but now we can also add dementia."

Researchers don't know exactly why the link appeared but believe it may have to do with the kind of fat that wraps around the belly and vital organs.

It's called "visceral fat" and is the most toxic in the body and that could trigger the on-set of Alzheimer's.

But medical experts say although visceral fat is the most toxic it's the easiest to lose.

Kathy Daly believes her weight loss could save her life because she has a family history of Alzheimer's. Two of her aunts died from the disease.

Daly said, "Learning about this study and about the possible link between the two is exciting to me to know it doesn't have to be that way. I don't necessarily have to assume that that's going to be the fate that I will have someday."

Daly held up a pair of size 20 pants she used to wear.

Now she could fit her whole body into just one leg. She's happier and healthier...and how about shopping for new clothes?

"Oh it's so much better nicer", she said with a laugh. "I don't miss the plus sizes at all", Daly said.

The study linking belly fat to dementia appears in the online issue of "Neurology".

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