Middle Age Weight & the Link to Dementia

In May 2011, I started reading new information published about dementia. Only a small family history links me to dementia, so I keep up with current findings.  According to a new study, being overweight or obese during middle age may increase the risk of certain dementias. The research is published in the May 3, 2011, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology

Middle age weight linked to dementia, obesity, Alzheimer's
Middle age weight linked to dementia

“Currently, 1.6 billion adults are overweight or obese worldwide and over 50 percent of adults in the United States and Europe fit into this category,” said study author Weili Xu, MD, PhD, with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “Our results contribute to the growing evidence that controlling body weight or losing weight in middle age could reduce your risk of dementia.”

The study found that people who were overweight or obese at midlife had an 80 percent higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia in late life compared to people with normal BMI.  Those with a body mass index (BMI) – which measures weight relative to height – greater than 30, who are classified as obese, were 288% more likely to develop dementia than those with a BMI between 20 and 25, according to the study.

The Alzheimer’s Society states about one out of every 20 people above the age of the 65 have dementia.

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term describing a serious deterioration in mental functions, such as memory, language, orientation and judgment.  There are many types, but Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for two thirds of cases, is the most well-known.

Alzheimer’s Society head of research, Dr Susanne Sorensen, said: “This robust study adds to the large body of evidence which suggests that if you pile on the pounds in middle age, your chances of developing dementia later in life are also increased.  “By eating healthily and exercising regularly, you can lessen your risk of developing dementia.”  She also says, “It’s likely that dementia is caused by a complex mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. However, we still need to know much more about the causes of dementia if we are to find an effective treatment that is so desperately needed.”  Click here for more information about Alzheimer’s.

I for one do all I can to keep my BMI within normal limits.  I am committed to fully enjoying my life which means taking good care of my body and mind.

~  Barbara

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