Research shows that there is a correlation between dementia and obesity, especially among those with excess abdominal weight, the John Tung Foundation said on Monday.
Obesity is a dementia risk factor among people aged 45 to 60, the foundation said, citing a report published in July by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention intervention and care.
As a person gains weight, their mental capacity decreases, increasing the risk of developing dementia, the foundation said.
Researchers believe that visceral fat, which is stored in the abdomen, contributes to chronic inflammation and increases blood lipid levels, heightening the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions, the foundation said.
Impeded circulation could lead to cerebral atrophy, affecting brain health and cognitive functioning, it said.
Nearly half of Taiwanese adults do not meet the physical activity standards recommended by the WHO, the foundation said, citing data published this year by the Health Promotion Administration.
People sit for about six hours a day on average, it said, attributing the figure to changing habits and increased use of electronics.
Sitting for long periods has a clear effect on abdominal weight and waist size, and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, said Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉), head of the foundation’s Food and Nutrition Division.
People who exercise regularly have denser and healthier brains than those who do not, National Taiwan Normal University professor of physical education Chang Yu-kai (張育愷) said.
Exercise can strengthen the prefrontal lobe, which is in charge of high-level brain functions, as well as the hippocampus, which governs memory and learning, Chang said.
Physical activity can help prevent dementia, the foundation said, calling on people to recognize the importance of exercise.
It recommended moving around whenever a chance arises, increasing intensity over time to develop the habit early on.
People should exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes per day, the foundation said, adding that it could help the body and mind as people age.
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