Obesity in middle age increases risk of dementia

Conditions such as Alzheimer’s is almost four times as likely to affect people who are obese in middle age, new study shows

People who are obese in middle age are at almost four times greater risk of developing dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease in later life than people of normal weight, according to a study released today, May 2nd.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, examined data on more than 8,500 people over the age of 65. Of the sample, 350 had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia and a further 114 had possible dementia.

Scientists used records of the participants’ height and weight in the decades before and found that those who had been overweight in middle age had a 1.8 times (80%) higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia in later life. But for obese people, classified as those having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, the risk soared. People with midlife obesity had an almost four times (300%) higher risk of dementia.

Currently, 1.6 billion adults are overweight or obese worldwide and over 50% of adults in the US and Europe fit into this category.  The research suggests that controlling body weight or losing weight in middle age could reduce your risk of dementia.”

Obese people are classified as those with BMI greater than 30, overweight people are those with a BMI between 25 and 30. Between 20 and 25 is classified as normal. Almost 30% of those in the study, 2,541 in total, had been either overweight or obese between 40 and 60 years of age.

The research shows that if you pile on the pounds in middle age, your chances of developing dementia are also increased. By eating healthily and exercising regularly, you can lessen your risk of developing dementia. Not smoking and getting your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly is also very important.

Healthy living in middle age can help to reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia in later life, a person’s experience of education also played a role in the rate of decline of the brain. based on this data, every one year in higher education is associated with about 10% reduced risk of overweight and obesity, and 8% decreased risk of dementia.

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