Apple-shaped women at double risk of dementia


Body shape: Linked to health

Women who are apple-shaped not only face a greater risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, but could also suffer from dementia. 

The grim news for those women who carry fat around their waist was revealed by scientists yesterday after extensive tests. 

Experts who studied the health of 1,500 women found that those with broader waists than hips were twice as likely to develop dementia when they got older. 

Deborah Gustafson, a senior lecturer at the Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University in Sweden, said: 'Anyone carrying a lot of fat round the middle is at greater risk of dying prematurely due to a heart attack or stroke.' 

She added: 'However, if they manage to live beyond 70, they run a greater risk of dementia.' 

The research, published in the science journal Neurology, was based on the population study of women in Gothenburg. 

This was started at the end of the 1960s when almost 1,500 women between the ages of 38 and 60 underwent comprehensive examinations and answered questions about their health and lifestyle. 

A follow-up survey around 32 years later showed that 161 women had developed dementia, with the average age of diagnosis being 75. 

It revealed that women who were broader round the waist than the hips in middle age ran slightly more than twice the risk of developing dementia when they got old.

However, the researchers could not find a link to a high body mass index (BMI). 

Deborah Gustafson added: 'Other studies have shown that a high BMI is also linked to dementia, but this was not the case in our findings.

'This may be because obesity and being overweight were relatively unusual among the women who took part in the prospective population study.' 

About one in 20 people over 65 will develop dementia, which causes forgetfulness, impaired speech and problems with recognition and orientation. 

In the UK there are approximately 600,000 people living with dementia and that number is expected to double over the next 30 years. 

In a recent study, around 25 per cent of British women described themselves as pear-shaped, with a bigger hip measurement than waist. Such women tend to store fat on their bottom and thighs. 

A third of women defined themselves as apple-shaped, storing their fat on their stomachs. 

Previous studies have shown that having fat around your middle increases the risk of heart disease by 70 per cent and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 80 per cent.

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