Obesity in early or mid-life may increase dementia risk

A study from the University of Oxford suggests that being obese in early or mid-life may increase risk of dementia in later life.

Posted on 21st August 2014

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford has discovered that obesity in early to mid-life may increase risk of dementia in later life.

The researchers studied people who lived in England and used hospital records to determine the age at which they were first hospitalised due to obesity. They found that people who were aged 30-39 at the time of their first obesity-related hospitalisation had a higher risk of developing dementia in later life. The risk of developing dementia decreases with increasing age of obesity diagnosis. People who are hospitalised with obesity over the age of 80 had a reduced risk of dementia. The study is published on 20 August in the Postgraduate Medical Journal.

Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:

“This study builds on previous evidence that obesity influences dementia risk. What is interesting about this research is that it suggests that obesity in earlier life can influence health in later life. There are a number of limitations to the work that are highlighted by the authors. One limitation of the study is that the data for obesity came from hospital admissions so it is hard to gauge the risk in people who were obese but did not need to be hospitalised. Obesity itself is associated with other risk factors, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which could also influence dementia risk. The follow-up period of 14 years is not sufficiently long especially for those younger members of the cohort. More research is needed to establish exactly why obesity can affect dementia risk.

“There is an increasing body of evidence that lifestyle factors are linked to dementia risk. As well as maintaining a healthy weight, research suggests that keeping blood pressure in check, not smoking and regular exercise throughout life are good ways to keep the brain healthy.

“Anyone who is concerned about their weight or general health should see their GP”.

Posted in Science news