Abdominal Fat and Brain Health

Approximately 60% of the U.S. population is either overweight or obese. It is no secret that being overweight is a risk factor for many diseases, including Alzheimer’s dementia. In addition, previous research has shown that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) can have lower brain volume. The problem with BMI is that it does not take into account one’s bone and muscle mass so that the calculation can be deceiving.

Abdominal Fat Study

A new study published in the Aging and Disease journal involved 10,001 healthy males and females who underwent whole-body MRI. The analysis included body fat (visceral (organ covering) and subcutaneous (superficial) abdominal fat), and brain volume. The researchers found that both types of abdominal fat predicted lower brain volumes. Moreover, subcutaneous fat had a stronger relationship to lower brain volume than visceral fat. One of the reasons the authors gave for subcutaneous fat being more problematic is that it increases systemic inflammation more than visceral fat. And finally, women had lower brain volumes than men regarding increased visceral fat.

Most research has focused on the connection between visceral fat and diseases such as dementia, cardiovascular disease, asthma, cancer, and others. About 90% of body fat is subcutaneous. As this study suggests, subcutaneous fat may significantly affect dementia and other chronic disease risk.

Measuring Waist Circumference

  1. Wrap tape measure around your waist starting at the top of your hip bone and level with the belly button.
  2. Do not hold your breath; pull the tape too tight. Keep the tape straight.
  3. Exhale and check the number.

Men: waist circumference should be less than 40 inches

Women: waist circumference should be less than 35 inches


Following a healthy and effective diet and an exercise program is critical for long-term weight management success. In addition, you may require hormone balancing, detoxification, and other therapies to correct your metabolism. We address these issues daily at the Stengler Center For Integrative Medicine www.markstenglercom


Dr. Mark Stengler NMD, MS, is a bestselling author in private practice in Encinitas, California, at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine. His newsletter, Dr. Stengler’s Health Breakthroughs, is available at www.americasnaturaldoctor.com His clinic website is www.markstengler.com



Cyrus A. Raji , Somayeh Meysami , Sam Hashemi , Saurabh Garg , Nasrin Akbari , Ahmed Gouda , Yosef Gavriel Chodakiewitz , Thanh Duc Nguyen , Kellyann Niotis , David A. Merrill , Rajpaul Attariwala. Visceral and Subcutaneous Abdominal Fat Predict Brain Volume Loss at Midlife in 10,001 Individuals. Aging and disease. 2023 https://doi.org/10.14336/AD.2023.0820