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Unintentional Weight Loss May Increase Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment

A recent study suggests that increasing unintentional weight loss as people progress from midlife to later life may increase the risk of mild cognitive impairment, which can progress to dementia or Alzheimer’s.


Participants in the study included 1,895 people who were 70 years or older and cognitively normal at the outset of the study. All of them took part in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, which started on October 1, 2004. The researchers used medical records to determine maximum weight and height in midlife.


Over a mean follow-up period of 4.4 years, 524 of them developed mild cognitive impairment. 50.3% were men with a mean age of 78.5 years. The mean rate of weight change per decade from midlife to the beginning of the study was greater for participants who developed mild cognitive impairment compared to those who did not.


After examining the data, the researchers determined that a greater decline in weight per decade was associated with a higher risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. Specifically, a weight loss of 11 pounds per decade corresponded with a 24% increase in risk of mild cognitive impairment.


Researchers from the Mayo Clinic conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 1, 2016, in JAMA Neurology.


Previous studies have identified 6 pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle. They are regular exercise, healthy diet, mental stimulation, quality sleep, stress management and an active social life. Incorporating all of these into your daily life may help reduce the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.

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