Body Mass Index and Brain Size

Body Mass Index- or BMI for short- is the measurement of choice for physicians and researchers studying obesity. BMI uses a mathematical formula that takes into account both a person's weight and height.

The Body Mass Index is a powerful variable for so many of the other risk facors linked to dementia including high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes.

Using new brain imaging technology and tracking weight gain in women over nearly a quarter of a century- researchers have made an alarming finding: As the body gets larger- the brain gets smaller.

It's yet another new research finding implicating traditional heart disease risk factors such as obesity and diabetes increases the odds that a person will develop Alzheimer's or related dementia.

Looking at the first chart below- you will see that the BMI has varying ranges.

A normal BMI score is 18.5-25

An overweight BMI score is 25-30

An obese BMI score is 30 or higher

The following Body Mass Index table will help you find your BMI score.To use the table- find your height in the left hand column (in inches: 60= 5 feet, 72= 6 feet).

Once you find your height- move across the row and pick the box that matches your weight the closest.

Move your finger up the column to find the BMI number at the top. This is the BMI number for that height and weight.

For example: a person who is 5 feet 11 inches (71 inches) and weighs 208 pounds has a BMI of 29.

For every one-point gain in BMI over the normal limit of 25- the risk of brain shrinkage increases 13-16 percent.

There's no doubt about it- A healthy body weight decreases the odds of developing Alzheimers and related dementias!

For more details on BMI and its relation to Alzheimer's and related dementias- see Chapters 7 & 8 in my book.

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