Does being overweight in old age cause memory problems?

Sep 19, 2007

While obesity has been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, being overweight in old age does not lead to memory problems, according to a study published September 19, 2007, in the online edition of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The six-year study involved 3,885 community dwelling people over age 65 in Chicago, IL. Of the participants, nearly 25 percent were obese with a body mass index (BMI) over 30, and 37 percent were overweight with a BMI between 25 and 29.9. Four cognitive tests were given at the beginning of the study and every three years thereafter over the six-year period.

The study found no significant changes in memory or cognitive function throughout the study for overweight or obese participants. In fact, participants who were underweight had more cognitive decline over time.

“We do not know yet why being overweight or obese does not increase the risk for cognitive decline in old age, however being underweight may be a correlate of the initial stages of Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author Maureen T. Sturman, MD, MPH, Rush University Medical Center and John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County in Chicago. “While past studies have found obesity in middle age increases a person’s risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, our findings show obesity in old age has no effect on a person’s memory. These findings are consistent with previous studies showing that weight loss or low BMI in old age may be a precursor of cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease.”

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Mobilising against hypertension in South Africa

Related Stories

The monopoly of aluminium is broken

10 hours ago

Discovering Majorana's was only the first step, but utilizing it as a quantum bit (qubit) still remains a major challenge. An important step towards this goal has just been taken, as shown by researchers ...

Recommended for you

Link between alcohol outlets and assaults

1 hour ago

A study exploring the established link between off-premise alcohol outlets and the rate of assaults and injuries in Australia has found that large bottleshops and liquor chains contribute most substantially ...

Mobilising against hypertension in South Africa

1 hour ago

Lifestyle-related disease is on the rise in South Africa, including high blood pressure. An ingenious partnership involving Oxford University is putting the nation's extensive mobile phone network to work ...

Making an impact on concussions

2 hours ago

The crash test dummy head is weighted and hauled with a pulley up the track. After a final check of the instruments and a quick countdown, the helmeted head plummets into an inevitable collision, moving at ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.