Skip to main content

Visceral Fat Accumulation is Associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment in Community-Dwelling Older Japanese Women



Visceral fat accumulation is detrimental for brain health and is associated with cognitive impairment in older adults. The objectives of the present study were to examine the association between visceral fat accumulation and prevalence of mild cognitive impairment and its subtypes. Design: a cross-sectional study.


This study enrolled 6,109 community-dwelling older adults, including 3,434 women (mean age: 74.4 years) and 2,675 men (mean age: 74.3 years). Individuals with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Mini-Mental State Examination scores ≤23, and who could not perform basic activities of daily living independently were excluded.


Participants underwent neurocognitive assessments to assess mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and its subtypes. Visceral fat area (VFA) was measured using abdominal bioelectrical impedance analysis. Participants were divided into quartile groups by VFA.


There were 731 (21.3%) women and 562 (21.0%) men with MCI, and the median VFA values were 63.3 cm2 and 96.3 cm2, respectively. Women participants in the second (adjusted odds ratios [aOR], 0.71; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.54–0.94), third (aOR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.47–0.92), and fourth quartiles of VFA (aOR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.41–0.93) had a significantly lower risk of MCI than those in the first quartile. Higher VFA quartiles in women were associated with lower risk of non-amnestic MCI. There were no significant differences in men between quartiles.


Visceral fat accumulation was associated with MCI, especially non-amnestic MCI, in community-dwelling older Japanese women. These results suggest that visceral fat accumulation is partially protective against cognitive impairment.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Figure 1


  1. Prince M, Wimo A, Guerchet M et al. World Alzheimer Report 2015 -The Global Impact of Dementia: An analysis of prevalence, incidence, cost and trends. Alzheimer’s Disease International 2015

  2. Petersen RC, Roberts RO, Knopman DS et al. Mild cognitive impairment: ten years later. Arch Neurol 2009;66:1447–1455

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Petersen RC, Doody R, Kurz A, et al. Current concepts in mild cognitive impairment. Arch Neurol 2001;58:1985–1992

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Petersen RC. Mild cognitive impairment as a diagnostic entity. J Intern Med 2004;256:183–194

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Shimada H, Makizako H, Doi T et al. Conversion and Reversion Rates in Japanese Older People With Mild Cognitive Impairment. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2017;18:808 e801–808 e806

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Barnes DE, Yaffe K. The projected effect of risk factor reduction on Alzheimer’s disease prevalence. The Lancet Neurology 2011;10:819–828

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Baumgart M, Snyder HM, Carrillo MC et al. Summary of the evidence on modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia: A population-based perspective. Alzheimers Dement 2015;11:718–726

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Loef M, Walach H. Midlife obesity and dementia: meta-analysis and adjusted forecast of dementia prevalence in the United States and China. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2013;21:E51–55

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Dahl AK, Lopponen M, Isoaho R et al. Overweight and obesity in old age are not associated with greater dementia risk. J Am Geriatr Soc 2008;56:2261–2266

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Emmerzaal TL, Kiliaan AJ, Gustafson DR: 2003–2013. a decade of body mass index, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. J Alzheimers Dis 2015;43:739–755

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Johnson DK, Wilkins CH, Morris JC. Accelerated weight loss may precede diagnosis in Alzheimer disease. Arch Neurol 2006;63:1312–1317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Anan F, Masaki T, Shimomura T et al. Abdominal visceral fat accumulation is associated with hippocampus volume in non-dementia patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Neuroimage 2010;49:57–62

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Luchsinger JA, Cheng D, Tang MX et al. Central obesity in the elderly is related to late-onset Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord 2012;26:101–105

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Chan DC. Waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index as predictors of adipose tissue compartments in men. Qjm 2003;96:441–447

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Hunter GR, Gower BA, Kane BL. Age Related Shift in Visceral Fat. International journal of body composition research 2010;8:103–108

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. Yamamoto S, Matsushita Y, Nakagawa T et al. Visceral Fat Accumulation, Insulin Resistance, and Elevated Depressive Symptoms in Middle-Aged Japanese Men. PLoS One 2016;11:e0149436

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Cartier A, Cote M, Lemieux I et al. Age-related differences in inflammatory markers in men: contribution of visceral adiposity. Metabolism 2009;58:1452–1458

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Yamashiro K, Tanaka R, Tanaka Y et al. Visceral fat accumulation is associated with cerebral small vessel disease. Eur J Neurol 2014;21:667–673

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Debette S, Wolf C, Lambert JC et al. Abdominal obesity and lower gray matter volume: a Mendelian randomization study. Neurobiol Aging 2014;35:378–386

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Spauwen PJ, Murphy RA, Jonsson PV et al. Associations of fat and muscle tissue with cognitive status in older adults: the AGES-Reykjavik Study. Age Ageing 2017;46:250–257

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Ryo M, Maeda K, Onda T et al. A new simple method for the measurement of visceral fat accumulation by bioelectrical impedance. Diabetes Care 2005;28:451–453

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Makizako H, Shimada H, Park H et al. Evaluation of multidimensional neurocognitive function using a tablet personal computer: test-retest reliability and validity in community-dwelling older adults. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2013;13:860–866

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Winblad B, Palmer K, Kivipelto M et al. Mild cognitive impairment—beyond controversies, towards a consensus: report of the International Working Group on Mild Cognitive Impairment. J Intern Med 2004;256:240–246

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Lopez OL, Jagust WJ, DeKosky ST et al. Prevalence and classification of mild cognitive impairment in the Cardiovascular Health Study Cognition Study: part 1. Arch Neurol 2003;60:1385–1389

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Luchsinger JA, Patel B, Tang MX et al. Measures of adiposity and dementia risk in elderly persons. Arch Neurol 2007;64:392–398

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kim HJ, Kim C, Jeon S et al (2015) Association of Body Fat Percentage and Waist-hip Ratio With Brain Cortical Thickness: A Study Among 1777 Cognitively Normal Subjects. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord 2015;29:279–286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Jagust W, Harvey D, Mungas D et al. Central obesity and the aging brain. Arch Neurol 2005;62:1545–1548

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Park HS, Park JY, Yu R. Relationship of obesity and visceral adiposity with serum concentrations of CRP, TNF-alpha and IL-6. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2005;69:29–35

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Letra L, Santana I, Seica R. Obesity as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease: the role of adipocytokines. Metab Brain Dis 2014;29:563–568

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Bagger YZ, Tanko LB, Alexandersen P et al. The implications of body fat mass and fat distribution for cognitive function in elderly women. Obesity research 2004;12:1519–1526

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hetemaki N, Savolainen-Peltonen H, Tikkanen MJ et al. Estrogen Metabolism in Abdominal Subcutaneous and Visceral Adipose Tissue in Postmenopausal Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2017;102:4588–4595

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. McEwen BS, Akama KT, Spencer-Segal JL et al. Estrogen effects on the brain: actions beyond the hypothalamus via novel mechanisms. Behav Neurosci 2012;126:4–16

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Marinho RM, Soares JM, Jr., Santiago RC et al. Effects of estradiol on the cognitive function of postmenopausal women. Maturitas 2008;60:230–234

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Holden KF, Lindquist K, Tylavsky FA et al. Serum leptin level and cognition in the elderly: Findings from the Health ABC Study. Neurobiol Aging 2009;30:1483–1489

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Van Harmelen V, Reynisdottir S, Eriksson P et al. Leptin secretion from subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue in women. Diabetes 1998;47:913–917

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Zeki Al Hazzouri A, Stone KL, Haan MN et al. Leptin, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia among elderly women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2013;68:175–180

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Orel M, Lichnovska R, Gwozdziewiczova S et al. Gender differences in tumor necrosis factor alpha and leptin secretion from subcutaneous and visceral fat tissue. Physiological research 2004;53:501–505

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Sugihara M, Oka R, Sakurai M et al. Age-related Changes in Abdominal Fat Distribution in Japanese Adults in the General Population. Internal Medicine 2011;50:679–685

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Cote M, Mauriege P, Bergeron J et al. Adiponectinemia in visceral obesity: impact on glucose tolerance and plasma lipoprotein and lipid levels in men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2005;90:1434–1439

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Alhurani RE, Vassilaki M, Aakre JA et al. Decline in Weight and Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment: Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. JAMA Neurol 2016;73:439–446

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We wish to thank the health-care staff for their assistance with the study assessments. We would like to thank Editage ( for English language editing.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ippei Chiba.

Ethics declarations

Ethical standards for epidemiological study were adhered to according to guidelines from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan.

Additional information

Conflicts of Interest

The work in Takahama city was supported by a Research Funding for Longevity Sciences (27–22) from the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG), Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) (26242059), joint research with Kao Corporation, and expenses for R&D were commissioned by Takahama city. The work in Nagoya city was supported by Strategic Basic Research Programs Redesigning Communities for Aged Society (RISTEX) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Health and Labor Sciences Research Grants, and joint research with Kao Corporation.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chiba, I., Lee, S., Bae, S. et al. Visceral Fat Accumulation is Associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment in Community-Dwelling Older Japanese Women. J Nutr Health Aging 24, 352–357 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Visceral fat
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • older people
  • epidemiology