Excess weight seems to impair women’s brains, but carrying it on the hips makes it worse, according to researchers at the Northwestern Medicine team. The researchers found that “apple-shaped” women do better than “pears” on cognitive tests, the BBC reports. Weight around the waist ups the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, said experts who noted that findings highlighted the importance of maintaining healthy weight for body and mind. Risks associated with obesity, like vascular disease and inflammation, could help explain why overweight people are at higher risk of dementia, but this new study suggests extra fat around the waist could protect brain functioning. Belly fat seems to make more of the female hormone estrogen, which lowers after menopause. In the study which looked at 8,745 post-menopausal women aged 65 to 79, researchers gave women a test used to judge brain function, as well as weighing and measuring them. Over two-thirds of the women were overweight or obese. For every one point increase in their BMI, the memory score dropped by one point, and pear-shaped women scored particularly badly.