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: Survey: Percent of uninsured Texans has declined since September 2013

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Extreme dieting: does it lead to longer lives?

Apr 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Animals who consume fewer calories live longer and healthier lives. Now, a seminal study at the University of California, San Francisco is testing whether the same is true for extreme dieters.

Study finds weight gain linked to dementia

Mar 04, 2011

Dementia and obesity are two of Australia’s biggest public health problems and the relationship between them is now one step closer to being understood, thanks to new research from The Australian National University.

Recommended for you

US judge overturns state's abortion law (Update)

13 hours ago

A federal judge on Wednesday overturned a North Dakota law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they're pregnant.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...