A Pot Belly in Middle Age Can Triple Your Risk of Alzheimers; Wide Boy: Top Gears Jeremy Clarkson Shows His Ample Girth in Barbados Yesterday

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Byline: Jenny Hope

DOCTORS have discovered that developing a pot belly in middle agedramatically raises the risk of Alzheimers in later life.

Men and women with large stomachs in their 40s are three times more likely tosuffer serious mental decline when they reached their 70s.

Specialists are not sure why expanding waistlines affect the brain, though fatpacked around the abdomen is metabolically active, unlike fat on the hips.

It releases more of the acids that raise heart disease risk, along with factorsthat increase blood pressure and blood sugar.

Other research has already linked obesity to vascular diseases which play arole in dementia, partly through hardening of the arteries.

In the latest study, U.S. scientists measured levels of abdominal fat in 6,583people aged 40 to 45 in California in the 60s and 70s.

After 36 years, 16 per cent of the volunteers had been diagnosed with dementia.

Those who had the highest amount of waistline fat in their 40s were almostthree times more likely to have developed dementia than those with the lowestamount of fat.

The study published today in the medical journal Neurology does not detail thehealthiest level of waist circumference.

But doctors recommend that men have a girth no bigger than 40 inches and womenshould be no more than 35 inches.

Study leader Dr Rachel Whitmer, from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Researchin Oakland, California, said it was a disturbing finding given that up to 50per cent of Americans have abdominal obesity.

She said: It is well known that being overweight in midlife and beyondincreases risk factors for disease. …