Another Reason to Lose Weight: Obesity Now Found to Increase Risk of Dementia
By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, May 3, 2005, abstracted from "Obesity in middle age and future risk of dementia: a 27 year longitudinal population based study" in an early online issue of the British Medical Journal
Despite significant efforts at increasing awareness regarding the health risks of obesity, the number of Americans who are either overweight or obese continues to increase. Although 135 million Americans aged 20 and older are overweight or obese,(1) even more alarming has been the tripling of overweight and obese teenagers since 1976 in the United States.(2)
While an estimated 300,000 U.S. adults die of causes related to obesity, from heart disease to type 2 diabetes,(3) a new study(4) has found that obesity also increases the risk of death from dementia.
Dementia is defined as “a deterioration in cognitive ability.” Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease , the two most common forms of dementia, cost the US Healthcare system $5.6 billion and $100 billion each year, respectively.(5)
In the study, 10,276 men and women underwent a detailed health evaluation from 1964 to 1973 when they were aged 40-45 and were re-examined between January 1994 and April 2003 in an attempt to find any evidence of dementia.
The researchers found that obesity increased the risk of dementia by 74% while overweight people had a 35% greater risk for dementia. Finally, men and women with the lowest body fat levels had a 72% and 60% decreased risk for dementia, respectively, compared to subjects with the highest body fat levels.