Midlife Weight Linked to Increased Alzheimer’s Risk

A 2015 study found that gaining weight in midlife—defined as ages 40-60—can increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s yet another study that shows an increased risk in cognitive issues related to obesity.

The study, conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and published in Molecular Psychiatry, found that the brains of obese people looked 16 years older than healthier counterparts. The brains of those who were overweight looked about eight years older than those at a healthy weight. Researchers believe that obesity accelerates aging much in the same way as smoking, drinking excessively or a sedentary lifestyle do.

Obesity, by the way, is defined as a body mass index of 30.0 or higher; overweight is 25.0 to 30. This calculator from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help calculate BMI.

Researchers determined that losing weight could help slow the rate of onset of Alzheimer’s. Yet not all of the obese patients in the study developed the disease. The study also did not explore changes in body mass index before or after age 50, suggesting more studies may be needed.

That said, staving off Alzheimer’s disease joins a growing list of reasons to manage weight, especially at midlife. A 2009 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that being overweight in midlife was associated with multiple chronic diseases, impaired cognitive and physical functions and mental health issues later.

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, those ages 36-plus have higher incidences of obesity—with 32.5 percent of those in that age range being obese. Adults who are overweight incur about $378 more per person per year in healthcare costs while those who are obese spend about $1,580 more. Altogether, overweight adults add about $142 billion each year in healthcare costs.

Clearly there are physical and financial reasons for seeking an optimal weight. Before beginning any exercise or eating program, consult your medical professional.

 

 


Sources:
Medical Daily http://www.medicaldaily.com/gaining-weight-middle-age-can-increase-your-early-alzheimers-risk-perils-midlife-350744
Science Times http://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/7273/20150907/link-between-obesity-and-alzheimers-discovered-study.htm
Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index http://www.well-beingindex.com/obesity-smoking-damage-u.s.-economy

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