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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

DagNABBIT! I have enough trouble deflecting Kate’s barbs about my slight rubber tire, insisting that belly fat is dangerous for men, without a bunch of researchers piling on with their alleged finding that belly fat decreases brain size.

But that’s what they did, those United Kingdom researchers who contend that a higher body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio leads to atrophying of the brain, according to their results published in a January online issue of Neurology, the peer-reviewed medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The first indicator that these nerds — and British nerds, at that — are wrong is that they don’t even use the preferred spelling of gray when talking about gray matter, opting instead for “grey.” Dammit, gray matters.

Plus, I’m not sure I’d trust brainiacs who fudge because it indicates that even they don’t believe the numbers. And waffle they do; consider these comments:

“It’s unclear if abnormalities in brain structure lead to obesity or if obesity leads to these changes in the brain,” study author Mark Hamer said in a statement quoted in USA Today.

That sounds like the old conundrum: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If they can’t decide which is which, can they even find their derrieres with both hands?

“We also found links between obesity and shrinkage in specific regions of the brain,” Hamer said. “This will need further research, but it may be possible that someday regularly measuring BMI and waist-to-hip ratio may help determine brain health.”

I can’t help but wonder whether Hamer’s brain is shrinking.

The study included more than 9,650 people whose average age was 55. About 1,000 participants with high BMI and waist-to-hip ratios had the lowest averages of gray matter.

Waist-to-hip ratio seems to me to be like a made-up thing, but that could be my own bias.

By way of contrast, about 3,000 participants whose weights were considered healthy had an average amount of gray matter, the researchers found. About 500 participants who had high BMIs but a lower waist-to-hip ratio had an average amount of gray matter.

I’m not trying to show off my gray matter, but I happen to know — from extensive research that didn’t include busting somebody’s head open — that gray matter isn’t even gray in a living person. It’s reddish-brown, according to Live Science.

This so-called gray (but reddish-brown) matter rules self-control, muscle control and sensory perception.

I’m not going to state the obvious — that, if belly fat is bad for men, isn’t it bad for women, too? — but a doctor I asked said it is, indeed.

OK, here’s another argument that disproves the findings: If my brain shrank as my belly expanded (a few inches or so, and I know I have to lose 20 pounds), wouldn’t my head shrink, too? Otherwise, it would just knock around inside my skull and give me concussions every time I turned around.

There are those who suggest that my head is swelling rather than constricting. Call me a petri dish, but maybe they should study me as the control.

And another thing: If Kate’s so smart that her brain is big, howcum she woke up the other day and asked where her mom was. I told her that the last time I saw her late mom, she was running across the backyard, through highly drifted snow, wearing just her bra and panties.

Then, she looked at me and said, “Where’s your wife?” I thought she was kidding, so I started rubbing her back. She turned around and said, “I asked you, where is your wife?”

“Look in a mirror,” I said.

Later, when she was fully awakened, she said she was having wild dreams because she was sleeping on the couch. I guess I won’t make her sleep on the couch any more. (Just KIDDING — she was just napping on the couch; if I tried to order her around, I’d be in the backyard, wandering aimlessly through snowdrifts, wearing only a T-shirt and my Buck Nakeds.)

BTW, the researchers used the U.K. Biobank Resource and received funding from the National Institute for Health Research Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, in addition to the U.K. Medical Research Council and U.S. National Institute on Aging. Seems like too many Brits spoil the scoop.

Mike Tighe can be reached at<>, or follow him on Twitter at @necktye.

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Mike Tighe can be reached at<>, or follow him on Twitter at @necktye.


(1) comment


It's good to read adapted science article here

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