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Can Obesity Really Be An Asset In Fighting Dementia?

A new study as reported at  Alzheimer’s & Dementia Weekly seems to suggest at least in preliminary research that being overweight and even obese might help prevent dementia. Research by Dr. Nawab Qizilbash and associates was done at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and OXON Epidemiology. The study followed 2 million people with an average age of 55 over 2 decades. The premise of the research was to see if there was a correlation between between BMI and risk of dementia.

What they found was surprising and unexpected!  Middle-aged people who were underweight seemed to be at a higher risk for developing dementia in old age. In fact, obese people had the lowest rate of developing dementia in later years according to this study. With obesity and dementia being major health problems, study author Professor Stuart Pocock of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said:

“Our results suggest that doctors, public health scientists, and policy makers need to re-think how to best identify who is at high risk of dementia.  We also need to pay attention to the causes and public health consequences of the link between underweight and increased dementia risk which our research has established.  However, our results also open up an intriguing new avenue in the search for protective factors for dementia – if we can understand why people with a high BMI have a reduced risk of dementia, it’s possible that further down the line, researchers might be able to use these insights to develop new treatments for dementia.”
 
However, others are cautioning that more research needs to be done.  Professor Deborah Gustafson from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York, USA, says,
 
“The published literature about BMI and dementia is equivocal. Some studies report a positive association between high mid-life BMI and dementia, whereas others do not… To understand the association between BMI and late-onset dementia should sober us as to the complexity of identifying risk and protective factors for dementia. The report by Qizilbash and colleagues is not the final word on this controversial topic.”
 
Obesity can lead to a number of serious health problems and obviously more research into it’s link with dementia is needed.
 
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