Belly fat
Belly fat may be linked to dementia. (Stock Free Images)

Belly fat in middle age can lead to diminished mental abilities later in life, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that people with excessive belly fat are three-and-a half times more likely to develop memory loss and dementia when they're older.

The study showed that people with more fat around their bellies have a smaller amount of an important protein in their bodies that's important for memory and learning.

"We need to better understand how fat is connected to memory and learning so that we can develop an effective approach to protect memory and learning," Dr. Kalipada Pahan, a professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center, said in a press release.

The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.

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