A new research from Northwestern Medicine has shown that obesity harms women's memory and brain function.
The research also revealed that the effect is more pronounced in women who carry excess weight around their hips, known as pear shapes, than women who carry it around their waists, called apple shapes.
The study of 8,745 cognitively normal, post-menopausal women ages 65 to 79 from the Women's Health Initiative hormone trials is the first in the United States to link obesity to poorer memory and brain function in women and to identify the body-shape connection.
"The message is obesity and a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) are not good for your cognition and your memory," said lead author Diana Kerwin, an assistant professor of medicine and a physician at Northwestern Medicine.
"While the women's scores were still in the normal range, the added weight definitely had a detrimental effect," she added.
For every one-point increase in a woman's BMI, her memory score dropped by one point. The women were scored on a 100-point memory test, called the Modified Mini-Mental Status Examination.
The reason for this deterioration is the type of fat deposited around the hips than the waist.
"Obesity is bad, but its effects are worse depending on where the fat is located," Kerwin said.
The study will be published July 14 in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.