Older men with higher levels of fat appear more likely to experience declines in cognitive function over seven years, but the same association does not appear to occur in older women. Alka M. Kanaya, M.D., of the University of California-San Francisco, and colleagues studied 3,054 elderly individuals enrolled in the Health ABC Study.
Participants' adiposity (fat level) was assessed by body mass index, waist circumference, sagittal diameter (distance between the back and the highest point of the abdomen), total fat mass and subcutaneous (beneath the skin) and visceral fat (fat between the internal organs) measured by computed tomography. Men whose measurements were higher were more likely to experience declines in scores on a cognitive functioning test administered at the beginning of the study and again after three, five and eight years. However, no association was observed in women.