Who knew that being slimmer could actually help you remember where you left your keys? We all know that excess weight in women carries a number of serious risks from heart disease to high blood pressure and diabetes. Now according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the more a postmenopausal woman weighs, the worse her memory becomes. The negative impact was more pronounced in pear-shaped women who carry extra weight around their hips, less so in apple-shaped women who carry the weight around their stomachs. (Though they aren’t out of the woods health-wise either, as excess belly fat is associated with higher risk of diabetes and heart attacks.)
The study followed 8,745 postmenopausal women ages 65 to 79 with no brain abnormalities or other memory problems. Researched asked the subjects to complete a cognitive functioning test after recording their height, weight, body circumference and blood pressure.
At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that women with a higher body mass index (BMI) displayed poorer cognitive function. Although the women’s scores on the tests were within a normal results range, additional weight had a negative effect on performance.
The study’s lead researcher recommends deeper investigation to explain the difference between the results displayed by pear- versus apple-shaped women, but speculates that the type of fat deposited on the hips is more likely than stomach fat to release hormones that are detrimental to brain function.
There is some research to suggest that a root cause of Alzheimer’s disease could include heart disease, something that is affected by weight. Further, Alzheimer’s is one-and-a-half times as likely to occur in women as men. Dementia affects 1 to 6 percent of the population aged 65 and over, with annual incidence rates double every five years between ages 75 and 89.
So this is one more reason to keep that weight in check as you age, ladies. If there’s a chance that working to lower your BMI could stave off dementia, start a healthier diet regimen along with exercise once you’ve checked with your doctor to make sure the plan is right for you.