The relationship of waist circumference and body mass index to grey matter volume in community dwelling adults with mild obesity

Obes Sci Pract. 2017 Dec 29;4(1):97-105. doi: 10.1002/osp4.145. eCollection 2018 Feb.


Objective: Previous work has shown that high body mass index (BMI) is associated with low grey matter volume. However, evidence on the relationship between waist circumference (WC) and brain volume is relatively scarce. Moreover, the influence of mild obesity (as indexed by WC and BMI) on brain volume remains unclear. This study explored the relationships between WC and BMI and grey matter volume in a large sample of Japanese adults.

Methods: The participants were 792 community-dwelling adults (523 men and 269 women). Brain magnetic resonance images were collected, and the correlation between WC or BMI and global grey matter volume were analysed. The relationships between WC or BMI and regional grey matter volume were also investigated using voxel-based morphometry.

Results: Global grey matter volume was not correlated with WC or BMI. Voxel-based morphometry analysis revealed significant negative correlations between both WC and BMI and regional grey matter volume. The areas correlated with each index were more widespread in men than in women. In women, the total area of the regions significantly correlated with WC was slightly greater than that of the regions significantly correlated with BMI.

Conclusions: Results show that both WC and BMI were inversely related to regional grey matter volume, even in Japanese adults with somewhat mild obesity. Especially in populations with less obesity, such as the female participants in current study, WC may be more sensitive than BMI as a marker of grey matter volume differences associated with obesity.

Keywords: Body fat distribution; body mass index; brain; waist circumference.