Maintaining Healthy BMI May Help Protect Against Dementia
Dementia and other cognitive problems become more prevalent as we age. A recent study suggests that people in their sixties and early seventies may be able to lower their risk of dementia by maintaining a healthy weight and muscle mass.
Participants in the study included 387 people in their 60’s and early 70;s, and 405 people in their 40’s. The researchers used MRI to measure longitudinal cortical thinning throughout the brain. They also measured the BMI of the participants at baseline
After examining the data, the researchers found an association between both increasing and decreasing BMI and increased brain shrinkage later in life. The research suggests that the changes in BMI could be a factor in dementia and that maintaining a steady and healthy weight and body mass may help lower the risk of cognitive decline.
Researchers from The Australian National University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 10, 2017, in the International Journal of Obesity.
Obesity has far ranging negative effects on health, beyond just dementia. Each year, obesity causes approximately 300,000 premature deaths in the United States. The negative health effects associated with obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea.
Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. It is recommended that we eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It also recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day.