The Mind–Belly Fat Connection

The Mind–Belly Fat Connection

A new study shows belly fat is linked to brain fog.

In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer and Bart are watching TV when Homer decides to show off the remarkable powers of his beer belly: He takes a beer that’s propped on his stomach and lifts it to his mouth without his hands. Then he flips the can over using only his belly and crushes it.

While Homer’s dumb trick with his beer belly is oddly athletic, that mountain of abdominal fat has powers far more extraordinary—and crushing—than that. Not only has belly fat been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer, now a new study shows it can make you as foggy-brained as Homer. Doh!

Research published in Circulation looked at data from over 5,000 people and found a higher waist-to-hip ratio (a measure of belly fat) was associated with lower cognitive function in adults over age 60. Seems abdominal fat pumps pro-inflammatory juices into your bloodstream, which damage your brain.

So, we’re suggesting the 229 million of you in this country who are overweight or obese consider enacting a plan to reduce your waistline. (The other 100 million of you should make sure you don’t slide into obesity!) Adopt a full body workout—don’t just target your waistlines with sit-ups or crunches—you need aerobics too. And opt for an anti-inflammatory diet based on leafy greens, legumes, lean proteins and whole grains. An ideal waist-to-height ratio to aim for: Your waist circumference (measured at your belly button) should be half your height.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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