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Excess Weight in Older Women Linked to Diminished Memory
Date:7/14/2010

By Madonna Behen
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged women who are overweight may have yet another motivation to take off those excess pounds: The more a postmenopausal woman weighs, the worse her memory, researchers have found.

What's more, the negative impact on memory was more pronounced in "pear-shaped" women who carry excess weight around their hips, and less of a factor in "apple-shaped" women who carry it around their waists, the study authors noted.

In the new study, researchers found that for every one point increase in a woman's body mass index (BMI), her score on a standard memory test -- though still in the normal range -- dropped by one point. BMI is a measurement that takes into account height and weight.

The study, which was based on data from nearly 9,000 women who were enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, a large government-sponsored study of postmenopausal women, was released online July 14 in advance of publication in the August print issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

"This study really underscores the importance of maintaining an ideal body weight," said lead researcher Dr. Diana Kerwin, assistant professor of medicine in the division of geriatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "Even if a woman feels that she's generally healthy because her blood pressure and cholesterol levels are good, what these findings suggest is that she also needs to pay attention to her weight, because it's not only good for her heart, it's also good for her brain."

For the study, Kerwin and her colleagues examined data on 8,745 women between the ages of 65 and 79 who had no signs of dementia or other brain abnormalities. In addition to looking at BMI and waist and hip measurements (to determine body fat distribution), they also reviewed the women's scores on a 100-point cognitive functioning tes
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