Overweight and obese adults are 30% less likely to develop dementia 15 years laterDaniel McCarthy (Author) Published Date : Apr 11, 2015 16:18 IST
A new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology suggests that obese and overweight people are 30% less likely to develop dementia 15 years later than people with normal weight. The study involved 2 million people who are overweight or obese in middle age; meanwhile, the study also indicates that underweight adults are 34% more chances to have dementia.
Our findings were unexpected, that obese and overweight people would be protected, said lead researcher Dr. Nawab Qizilbash of the OXON Epidemiology Ltd. in Madrid, Spain.
Qizilbash however said no one should take the preliminary findings as the excuse to put on weight just to prevent dementia because the study also shows a predictable risk of death from obesity and being overweight.
Even if there were to be a protective effect on dementia from being overweight or obese, you may not live long enough to get the benefit, Qizilbash said. And he agreed that more research needs to be conducted into the study. We don't have a biological explanation for the association we observed.
Qizilbash believes the results obtained from the study would be helpful in developing treatments for Alzheimer s among other types of dementia. Our results should open new avenues for research for protective factors for dementia. They may be used to provide insight to looking for a mechanism and developing new treatments for dementia, he said. In addition, doctors, public health scientists and policy makers may need to rethink how to identify who is at high risk for dementia.
But Deborah Gustafson, a professor of neurology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City, argued that there are genetic roles to weight and dementia, and that Despite the high number of participants [in the study], it is not the final word, given the methodological questions, she said. More research is needed, as well as clarification of these results.
In conducting the research, Qizilbash and fellow researchers evaluated 20 years of medical records for 2 million British people aged 55 at the beginning of the study, and 15 years after in a follow-up, about 45,500 of the participants developed dementia. Meanwhile, risk factors for dementia such as smoking and drinking did not affect the results obtained in the study.
And according to Dr. Malaz Boustani, an associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a spokesperson for the American Federation for Aging Research, if a biological mechanism can be found to support these findings, it might lead to new ways of treating or preventing dementia.
Overweight and obese adults are 30% less likely to develop dementia 15 years later