Is Belly Fat Shrinking Your Brain?

Is Belly Fat Shrinking Your Brain?

Scientists find a link between belly fat and brain size.

Researchers Mark Hamer, PhD of Loughborough University in Leicestershire UK and G. David Batty, PhD, DSC of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland conducted a test of 9,652 individuals to determine if a statistically valid relationship between obesity and brain size could be found.

They concluded that it could be found- more belly fat is associated with a smaller brain.


Body Mass Index (BMI) is a ratio between height and weight. A BMI above 30 is obese. And, as we’ve covered in previous posts, obesity is associated with increased risk of 13 kinds of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more. None of the “more” are fun or positive.

A separate, but important, ratio is the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Calculate WHR by dividing waist measurement by hip measurement. For men, a waist ratio above .9 is “centrally obese”. For women, above .85 is centrally obese.


The researchers found that overweight individuals had smaller brain matter than lean individuals. And the combination of a high BMI plus a high WHR makes it worse. Specifically, those participants with a high BMI but not a high WHR had smaller brains than lean folks. Those with high BMI’s and high WHR’s had even smaller brains.

Study co-author Mark Hamer noted: “Our research looked at a large group of people and found that obesity, specifically around the middle, may be linked with brain shrinkage”

Differences were found in the amount of gray matter. Gray matter is the tissue of the brain and spinal cord. It is comprised of neurons and dendrites.

We’re fans of more gray matter not less. Links to the research are here and here.


You know that we have offer these great, travel friendly exercise kits don’t you? Don’t let those holiday pounds you’ve put on shrink your brain. Time to get back on that exercise regime, reduce your WHR and grow some gray matter-and maybe that beach bod you want too.