Published on: September 23, 2017
by Dr. Jack Rutherford for The Richmond Register:
Are you an apple or a pear? If you’re not sure, look in the mirror. If the image reflecting back to you shows more roundness around the middle of your body, then you’re probably an apple. If that girth is concentrated below the belt, then you’re likely a pear. Scientists call the apple body shape android and the pear shape gynoid. Research has found a higher risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes for those with android body shapes. But what about cognitive health? Does your body shape have a role to play in helping to prevent cognitive decline? The results of a recent study suggest it may.
Seventy-eight healthy men and women between the ages of 65 and 75 years were measured for total body fat, android and gynoid fat distribution and ratio, working memory and cognitive flexibility. Correlations between regional body fat and cognitive executive function were then computed.
The results showed a significant fat-cognition relationship depending on fat localization and type of cognitive function. Results suggest a deleterious effect of android body fat and a protective effect of gynoid body fat.
The results are interesting because we know that excessive body fat increases the risk of cardiovascular, metabolic and cognitive diseases, yet maintaining a certain proportion of gynoid fat may help prevent cognitive decline, particularly in older women. It should be noted that females are typically gynoid in their body shape, while most males tend to be android.
And so, while the guidelines for optimal body fat maintenance are still valid, the elderly should not target indiscriminate weight loss, but healthy body fat/lean mass ratios through healthy methods such as physical exercise and healthy eating.
The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging.
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