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Middle Age Weight Increase May Increase Dementia Risk

Obesity has been linked to a number of health issues, including diabetes, sleep apnea, and coronary heart disease. Now a recent study suggests that people with a high body mass index (BMI) are at a higher risk of developing dementia than those of a normal weight.


Participants in the study included just over 1.3 million adults living in the United States and Europe who took part in 39 longitudinal population studies. All of the participants were free of dementia at the beginning of their respective studies. The height and weight of all participants was recorded as well.


During the 38 years of follow-up, 6,894 people developed dementia. After examining the data, the researchers found that having a higher BMI two decades before dementia onset results in a higher risk of developing dementia. Specifically, each 5-unit increase in BMI was associated with a 16% to 33% increase in developing dementia. Five units is approximately the difference between normal weight and overweight or overweight and obese.


Conversely, the study also found that people who were close to dementia onset who went on to develop dementia had lower body weight than their peers who did not develop dementia. The researchers attributed this to weight loss due to pre-clinical dementia.


Researchers from University College London led the study. It was published online ahead of print on November 20, 2017, in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.


Obesity has far ranging negative effect on health. 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.

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