Weight Gain and Alzheimer’s Disease

September 8, 2015

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Did you know that the average life expectancy in the United States is almost 79 years? That’s up by nearly a decade since the 1960s. Did you also know that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, doubles every five years after the age of 65 Well, this puts us into an interesting spot, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately the exact cause of Alzheimer’s is not yet fully known. However, there has been a recent link to overweight and obesity as indicators for even greater risk for developing the condition. Seeing that obesity is connected to over 59 other health conditions, it is unsurprising that Alzheimer’s would now rank among them.

In this most recent study, researches found that being overweight or obese at the age of 50 years increases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. As published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, out of a group of 1,400 participants over a span of 14 years, 142 wound up developing Alzheimer’s. And out of that group, those with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher at an age described as midlife (around 50 years) developed Alzheimer’s around 6.7 months sooner than participants of a healthy weight. Furthermore, it was found that the risk of earlier Alzheimer’s onset increased with each unit increase in BMI.

Similar conclusions were also reached in a British 27-year study of over 10,000 participants. In this study, 713 participants were eventually diagnosed with dementia. Of those participants, researchers found that overweight patients had a 35% greater risk of developing dementia and obese patients had a whopping 74% increased risk.

Again, the reasons for this increased risk are still yet to be fully defined, but post-mortem research has detected higher levels of fat deposits in the brain of Alzheimer’s sufferers.

The research hasn’t caused us to hit the panic button just yet, but we think it stresses the urgency for those at midlife or younger to seriously get their weight under control. The numbers speak for themselves. Almost 40% of US adults can be diagnosed as obese and projected to increase if no steps are taken to reverse the trend. Alzheimer’s cases may triple to almost 14 million cases by 2050. With the knowledge that obesity in midlife increases the risk of earlier development of Alzheimer’s, and with our longer life expectancy rates, the time is now to take action to ensure a better quality of life in our twilight years.

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