High BMI Is Associated With Elevated Dementia Risk

APRIL 03, 2018
Ryan Marotta, Associate Editor
The results of a recent study show that individuals with a high body mass index (BMI) face a heightened risk of developing dementia compared with those who have a healthy BMI.

The study, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, evaluated data on 1,349,857 patients without dementia across 39 previous studies from the United States and Europe. After an average follow-up period of 38 years, 6894 of these participants developed dementia.

Based on their analysis, the researchers determined that each 5-unit increase in BMI was associated with a 16% to 33% higher risk of dementia. However, they also found that patients who neared the onset of dementia had a lower mean level of BMI than those without the condition; the study authors suggested that is because of weight loss experienced as a result of metabolic changes during the predementia stage.

“The BMI–dementia association observed in longitudinal population studies, such as ours, is actually attributable to 2 processes,” said lead author Mika Kivimäki, PhD, in a statement. “One is an adverse effect of excess body fat on dementia risk. The other is weight loss due to pre-clinical dementia. For this reason, people who develop dementia may have a higher-than-average body mass index some 20 years before dementia onset, but close to overt dementia have a lower BMI than those who remain healthy."

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