Individuals with hidden fat wrapped around their abdominal organs are more at risk of developing dementia compared to those who have more visible fat, a new study reveals.

Latest research has found that people who are ‘skinny fat’ are more likely to develop the memory loss condition than visibly obese individuals.

Otherwise known as visceral fat, this is when fat is stored deep inside the belly and wrapped around the organs, including the liver and intestines.

Visceral fat can affect everyone, even those with a healthy BMI, according to the small research study.

People with a greater level of visceral fat tend to have more proteins in their brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s.

These proteins can trigger inflammation by releasing chemicals and hormones into the blood, which in turn can cause the memory loss condition.

Senior author Dr Mahsa Dolatshahi said: “Even though there have been other studies linking BMI with brain atrophy or even a higher dementia risk, no prior study has linked a specific type of fat to the actual Alzheimer’s disease protein in cognitively normal people.”

During the study, the team of researchers examined the health data of 54 middle-aged adults, all of whom had good cognition and an average BMI of 32.

People with a BMI higher than 30 are classed as obese, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

The scientists measured each participant’s subcutaneous fat and visceral fat levels by using an MRI.

They found that subcutaneous fat does not release harmful chemicals to the brain like visceral fat does.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat found under your skin, accumulating mainly around the buttocks and thighs.

Throughout the trial, the researchers also used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to measure some of the participant’s amyloid and tau protein levels.

They discovered that those with more amyloid proteins in their brain were more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Co-author Dr Cyrus Raji said: “The findings could help with earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and potential treatments.

“It shows that such brain changes occur as early as age 50, on average – up to 15 years before the earliest memory loss symptoms of Alzheimer’s occur.”

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