SEP 03, 2020 3:35 PM PDT

High BMI and Waist Circumference Increase Dementia Risk

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

New research from University College London (UCL) provides another link between obesity and dementia risk. The study cites that in 2016, 38% of adults were considered overweight. Additionally, the global prevalence of dementia nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016. According to the study, current clinical guidelines consider obesity a "modifiable risk factor."

However, as UCL reports, different studies had conflicting results, some even suggesting that obesity could protect older adults from developing dementia. So, UCL researchers sought to clarify the relationship between obesity and dementia risk. This study's findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in June of this year. Dr. Dorina Cadar, the senior author, told UCL, "These findings provide new evidence that obesity may have important implications in terms of dementia risk."

The study used a representative population sample of 6,582 English adults older than 50 years. As part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, these participants were followed up with for 15 years. They were interviewed biannually and had interviews with a nurse every four years. All participants were free of dementia at their baseline assessment. According to UCL, doctor diagnosis, informant reports, and hospital episode statistics were used to determine dementia.

The study results showed a "positive and independent association between obesity and dementia risk." Participants with a BMI of 30 or higher at the beginning of the study had a 31% greater risk of developing dementia. Additionally, the study uncovered that women with abdominal obesity (using waist circumference as a guide) are nearly 40% more at risk of developing dementia than those with "normal" waist circumference measurements. Combining waist circumference and BMI, both male and female participants had a 28% higher risk of dementia than those in the normal range.

In the article from UCL regarding the study, Dr. Cadar said, "both BMI and waist circumference status should be monitored to avoid metabolic dysregulations." She suggests adopting a healthy and balanced diet, physical exercise, and lower alcohol consumption to reduce weight to optimal levels.

Paper co-author Professor Andrew Steptoe noted that rising obesity rates further compound the issue of dementia as a significant health challenge. He said, "by identifying factors that may raise dementia risk that are influenced by lifestyle factors, we hope that a substantial portion, but admittedly not all, of dementia cases, can be prevented through public health interventions."

Sources: University College London, International Journal of Epidemiology

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
MAR 18, 2021
Immunology
"Brainwashed" Immune Cells Help Breast Tumors Thrive
MAR 18, 2021
"Brainwashed" Immune Cells Help Breast Tumors Thrive
Immunologists have discovered a mechanism through which immune cells get recruited into breast cancer tumors, and instea ...
MAR 30, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Common Alzheimer's Drugs Reduce Mortality Rate and Cognitive Decline
MAR 30, 2021
Common Alzheimer's Drugs Reduce Mortality Rate and Cognitive Decline
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute and Umea University in Sweden have found that a commonly recommended group of ...
APR 05, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Understanding Why Redheads Perceive Pain Differently
APR 05, 2021
Understanding Why Redheads Perceive Pain Differently
People with red hair, as well as some animals that have red fur, carry one variation of a gene called melanocortin 1 rec ...
APR 15, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Portable Ebola Detector, 1000x More Sensitive Than Lab-Based Tests
APR 15, 2021
A Portable Ebola Detector, 1000x More Sensitive Than Lab-Based Tests
Duke University scientists have created a highly sensitive Ebola virus portable diagnostic device, 1000 times more sensi ...
APR 11, 2021
Microbiology
Are Gut Microbes a Solution to Malnutrition?
APR 11, 2021
Are Gut Microbes a Solution to Malnutrition?
The bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract have a big influence on our health, and they serve some important functions i ...
APR 01, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Analyzing nitrogen dioxide with deep learning
APR 01, 2021
Analyzing nitrogen dioxide with deep learning
Researchers from Penn State are looking to deep learning to act as a method for improving air quality predictions. The r ...
Loading Comments...