Credit: © Anatomy Insider / Fotolia

Credit: © Anatomy Insider / Fotolia

Obesity increases the risk of developing dementia

Obesity increases the risk of developing dementia, according to the latest research from the University College London.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

In the new study, the researchers found that those who had a high body mass index were more likely to develop dementia than those with a normal weight.

The study looked at data from 1.3 million adults living in the United States and Europe.

The BMI-dementia association observed in longitudinal population studies, such as ours, is actually attributable to two processes,” said lead author of the study, Professor Mika Kivimäki (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health). “One is an adverse effect of excess body fat on dementia risk. The other is weight loss due to pre-clinical dementia. For this reason, people who develop dementia may have a higher-than-average body mass index some 20 years before dementia onset, but close to overt dementia have a lower BMI than those who remain healthy.”

The new study confirms both the adverse effect of obesity as well as weight loss caused by metabolic changes during the pre-dementia stage.”

The study abstract reported the following results and stats:

A total of 6,894 participants developed dementia during up to 38 years of follow-up. Two decades before symptomatic dementia, higher BMI predicted dementia occurrence: each 5-unit increase in BMI was associated with a 16-33% higher risk of this condition (5 BMI units is 14.5kg for a person 5’7″ (170cm) tall, approximately the difference in weight between the overweight and normal weight categories or between the obese and overweight categories). In contrast, the mean level of BMI during pre-clinical stage close to dementia onset was lower compared to that in participants who remained healthy.

The study showing that obesity increases the risk of developing dementia was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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1. “Obesity Increases Dementia Risk.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily,

2. “Body Mass Index and Risk of Dementia: Analysis of Individual-Level Data from 1.3 Million Individuals.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Alzheimer’s Association,
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