Obese over-50s face dementia timebomb: Weight issues increase chances of developing the disease by more than 30%, research suggests
- The risk was highest of all in women with abdominal obesity, a study showed
- Two in three adults and one in three children are now overweight or obese
- Researchers say healthier lifestyles could reduce the burden of the disease
Being obese in your fifties could significantly raise the risk of developing dementia, a study has found.
Obesity increased the chances of developing the disease by almost a third compared to those of a healthy weight.
The risk was even higher for women with bulging waistlines, according to researchers from University College London.
Experts have warned the UK is facing a dementia timebomb unless we do more to tackle obesity.
Britain’s spiralling obesity crisis means two in three adults and one in three children are now overweight or obese (file photo)
Scientists analysed data from 6,582 people who were part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a database of over-50s in England which stores information about health, well-being and economic circumstances in several time periods.
Compared with those with a ‘normal’ body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9, the team found people whose BMI was 30 or higher at the start of the study period had a 31 per cent greater risk of dementia at an average of 11 years later.
This risk was highest of all in women with abdominal obesity, measured using waist circumference.
These women had a 39 per cent increased risk of dementia compared to those who measured within a normal range. No difference was found in men.
When BMI and waist circumference were combined, both obese men and women had a 28 per cent greater risk.
Researchers suggest obesity can contribute to the accumulation of amyloid proteins or lesions in the brain, responsible for some types of dementia (file photo)
The researchers suggest adopting healthier lifestyles, such as following a Mediterranean diet and exercising more – could significantly reduce the burden of the disease.
Inflammatory bowel disease doubles the risk of dementia
People who suffer a common gut condition have double the risk of dementia of the general population, a study has found.
Those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, are also likely to be diagnosed with dementia earlier in their lives.
The Taiwanese researchers said there is increasing evidence supporting ‘reciprocal communication’ between the gut and central nervous system in disease.
Using a national Taiwanese database, researchers compared 1,742 IBD patients to more than 17,000 people without it over 16 years.
Just 1.4 per cent of people in the control group developed dementia compared with 5.5 per cent of patients with IBD.
After taking account of potentially influential factors, those with IBD were more than twice as likely to develop dementia.
Professor Andrew Steptoe, director of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing said: ‘Dementia is one of the major health challenges of the 21st century that could threaten successful aging of the population.’
He added: ‘By identifying factors that may raise dementia risk that are influenced by lifestyle factors, we hope that a substantial portion… of dementia cases can be prevented through public health interventions.’
Britain’s spiralling obesity crisis means two in three adults and one in three children are now overweight or obese.
Researchers suggest obesity can contribute to the accumulation of amyloid proteins or lesions in the brain, responsible for some types of dementia.
It can also damage blood vessels in the brain, which in turn leads to the death of brain cells, causing different parts of the brain to shrink.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, suggest dementia is the latest in a long line of health problems linked to obesity, with soaring rates of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease also blamed on excess pounds.
Lead author Dr Dorina Cadar, of UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said: ‘These findings provide new evidence that obesity may have important implications in terms of dementia risk.
‘Both BMI and waist circumference status should be monitored to avoid metabolic or vascular complications.’
Fiona Carragher, of the Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘Keeping active, eating well and looking after your heart health are all important steps towards reducing the risk of developing dementia later in life.’