Mid­dle-age obe­sity linked to higher odds for de­men­tia

Iran Daily - - Health & Wellness -

If you’ve been look­ing for a good rea­son to slim down, con­sider this: Be­ing obese at midlife ap­pears to in­crease your odds for de­men­tia.

That’s the take­away from a large study just pub­lished by Bri­tish re­searchers, and it echoes sim­i­lar find­ings pub­lished in De­cem­ber, health­day.com re­ported.

Do­rina Cadar, lead re­searcher on the new study, said the goal is to iden­tify risk fac­tors that are in­flu­enced by life­style so steps can be taken to pre­vent men­tal de­cline.

“We hope that a sub­stan­tial por­tion, but ad­mit­tedly not all, of de­men­tia cases can be pre­vented through pub­lic health in­ter­ven­tions,” she said. Cadar is a senior re­search fel­low at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don.

Her team found that peo­ple who are obese at midlife have a 31 per­cent higher risk for de­men­tia than mid­dle-aged peo­ple whose weight is nor­mal — and the risk is es­pe­cially high for women.

The good news: Los­ing weight may sig­nif­i­cantly lower the odds, the re­searchers said.

For the study, Cadar and her col­leagues an­a­lyzed data from nearly 6,600 peo­ple aged 50 and older who were part of a Bri­tish study on ag­ing. The re­searchers used three sources to as­cer­tain de­men­tia: Doc­tor di­ag­no­sis, in­for­mant re­ports and hos­pi­tal statis­tics.

While obe­sity was a risk for both men and women, the risk of de­men­tia was even higher for women with ab­dom­i­nal obe­sity — a con­di­tion mea­sured by their waist size. Over an av­er­age fol­lowup of 11 years, they were 39 per­cent more likely to de­velop de­men­tia, the study found.

This higher risk was in­de­pen­dent of other fac­tors, such as age, ed­u­ca­tion, mar­i­tal sta­tus, smok­ing, ge­net­ics, di­a­betes and high blood pres­sure. No as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween ab­dom­i­nal obe­sity and de­men­tia was found among men, the study au­thors said.

But when the re­searchers con­sid­ered both weight and waist size to­gether, obese men and women alike had 28 per­cent higher odds of de­vel­op­ing de­men­tia.

A study pub­lished in De­cem­ber of women only un­cov­ered sim­i­lar risks.

Dr. Sam Gandy, associate di­rec­tor of the Mount Si­nai Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Re­search Cen­ter in New York City, re­viewed the new find­ings.

“This new pa­per is en­tirely con­sis­tent with both the field in gen­eral and with our own work in par­tic­u­lar,” he said.

Gandy said pro­teins im­pli­cated in in­flam­ma­tion, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and type 2 di­a­betes — all of which are risk fac­tors for Alzheimer’s — may con­trib­ute to the links be­tween obe­sity and de­men­tia.

Keith Fargo, di­rec­tor of sci­en­tific pro­grams and out­reach at the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion, said links be­tween un­der­ly­ing causes of chronic phys­i­cal con­di­tions and de­men­tia are well known.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween heart health risk fac­tors — such as di­a­betes, obe­sity and high blood pres­sure — and cog­ni­tive de­cline and de­men­tia is well es­tab­lished in Alzheimer’s re­search,” Fargo said.

These new find­ings add to the over­all body of ev­i­dence that links obe­sity to higher de­men­tia risk, he noted. The sex-based dif­fer­ences iden­ti­fied in the lat­est study are in­trigu­ing, Fargo said. But, “it’s too early to know whether this find­ing is valid based on just one study,” he ex­plained.

The Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion is run­ning a two-year clin­i­cal trial to see if healthy life­style in­ter­ven­tions that tar­get risk fac­tors can pro­tect cog­ni­tive func­tion in a di­verse group of older adults.

“What’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing is the pos­si­bil­ity that liv­ing more health­fully can re­duce de­men­tia risk,” Fargo said.


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