The dangerous belly fat that plagues so many Americans has yet another downside: It can increase your chances of developing dementia in old age. It’s widely acknowledged that belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is more life-threatening than regular body fat because it surrounds and affects vital organs. Now, a large study of more than 6,000 patients has found that people with potbellies in their 40s and 50s were nearly three times as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of senile dementia in their 70s and 80s. Researchers said that abdominal fat may churn out proteins and fat that help increase the buildup of cholesterol and plaques in the brain. “People need to think not just about weight, but where they carry their weight,” study author Rachel Whitmer tells the San Francisco Chronicle. People shaped like pears, with extra weight in their thighs and butt, are better off than “apples,” whose midsection fat can lead to heart
disease, diabetes, and dementia.