Associations of Brain Structure With Adiposity and Changes in Adiposity in a Middle-Aged and Older Biracial Population

B. Gwen Windham, Seth T. Lirette, Myriam Fornage, Emelia J. Benjamin, Kirby G. Parker, Stephen T Turner, Clifford R Jr. Jack, Michael E. Griswold, Thomas H. Mosley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Background: Studies of adiposity and brain pathology in African Americans (AA) are sparse despite higher rates of obesity, dementia, and dementia-associated brain pathology in AA. This study examined relations of adiposity to white matter hyperintensities (WMH) and total brain volume (TBV) in AA and non-Hispanic whites (NHW).

Methods: Waist circumference (WC) and body mass index (BMI) were measured in the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Arteriopathy study at Visits 1 (mean age 57 [±11]) and 2 (mean age 61 [±10], mean 5.2 years later). Brain MRIs were obtained shortly after Visit 2 in 1,702 participants (64% women, 48% AA). Multilevel linear regression using generalized estimating equation estimated associations of adiposity (cross-sectional) or adiposity changes with WMH (accounting for intracranial size) or TBV adjusting for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, and incorporating adiposity-by-race interactions. Adiposity-by-age interactions were examined.

Results: Concurrent TBV was inversely associated with BMI (β = -2.76 [95% confidence interval (CI): -4.99, -0.53]) and WC (β = -2.19 [CI: -4.04, -0.34]). Concurrent WMH were negatively associated with BMI (β = -0.04 [CI: -0.06, -0.01]) and, among NHW, with WC (β = -0.04 [CI: -0.06, -0.02]) but not with changes in BMI or WC. BMI increases were associated with lower TBV (β = -16.20, [CI: -30.34, -2.06]) in AA but not in NHW (β = -2.76 [CI: -14.02, 8.51]), although race-by-adiposity interactions were not supported. WC increases were not associated with MRI outcomes.

Conclusion: Greater measures of obesity and increases in measures of obesity, which are common in mid-life, could be detrimental to brain health, particularly in AA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-831
Number of pages7
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Longitudinal
  • MRI
  • Obesity
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Associations of Brain Structure With Adiposity and Changes in Adiposity in a Middle-Aged and Older Biracial Population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this