Overweight or obese individuals are at greater risk of earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study findings.
Researchers at the National Institute of Health took a closer look to determine a connection between obesity in middle age and the onset of Alzheimer’s. The study involved the analysis of nearly 14,000 cognitively normal individuals for about 14 years.
The experts assessed participants’ body mass index (BMI), a measure of height to weight, at the age of 50, and the volunteers underwent regular neurological assessments every 2 years for an average of 14 years. During the follow-up phase, 142 of the participants developed the disease.
The scientists found that subjects who were overweight or obese in midlife, defined as having a BMI of 25 or over, were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s around 6.7 months earlier than participants of a healthy weight.
They also noted that the risk of earlier Alzheimer’s onset rose with each unit increase in midlife BMI. For example, participants with a BMI of 30 in midlife were likely to have Alzheimer’s a year earlier that those with a BMI of 28.
The researchers are unable to describe the exact mechanisms behind their findings. They believe their results highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy weight in midlife in order to prevent early Alzheimer’s onset.
“Maintaining a healthy BMI at midlife is likely to have long-lasting protective effects,” said Dr. Madhav Thambisetty of National Institute on Aging, who led the survey.
Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease, accounting 70 percent of all the cases of dementia. It affects an estimated 35 million elderly people around the world. Common risk factors for the condition include age, family history of the disease and the presence of certain genes, such as apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4). IMAGE/news.yahoo