According to new research, people who are overweight or obese at the age of 50 could be impacted by an earlier onset of Alzheimer’s. Learn more about this study and the relationship between weight and the disease.
Investigating the Link Between Weight and an Earlier Risk of Alzheimer’s
While it is not known what exactly causes Alzheimer’s, previous studies have shown common risk factors include age, the presence of the APOE-e4 gene and family history. Studies have also shown a correlation between obesity in midlife, but, until now, researchers were not certain how midlife weight connected to an earlier risk of Alzheimer’s.
In a recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from the Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) set out to learn more about the link between obesity in midlife and an Alzheimer’s onset.
The research team analyzed almost 1,400 adults with no signs of cognitive decline and assessed their body mass index (BMI) at the age of 50 years old. Then, researchers used cognitive assessments every 2 years for 14 years to find signs of Alzheimer’s. During the course of the study, over 140 participants went on to develop Alzheimer’s.
How Midlife Weight Could Mean an Earlier Risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers found that participants who had a BMI of 25 or over – at the age of 50 – were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s nearly 7 months sooner than participants who were at a healthy weight. The study also showed that the disease appeared earlier as BMI in midlife increased. For instance:
Subjects who had a BMI of 30 at the age of 50 were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s an entire year earlier than those who had a BMI of 28.
In addition to the nearly 1,400 participants, the research team also analyzed 191 deceased subjects. They found that of the deceased, those who had a higher BMI in midlife also had a higher amount of beta amyloid proteins in the brain. Beta amyloid proteins are a hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s and commonly thought to be a cause of the disease.
The study adds to recent evidence that lifestyle choices can make a difference when it comes to decreasing risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The study states:
“Our findings raise the possibility that inexpensive, noninvasive interventions targeting midlife obesity and overweight could substantially alter the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease, reducing its global public health and economic impact.”
More studies will need to be done to determine if a lower BMI in midlife delays Alzheimer’s and to see if there is a specific BMI where the risk of Alzheimer’s increases.
What do you think about the latest study to link BMI to Alzheimer’s disease? Have you seen a correlation between weight being connected to an earlier risk of Alzheimer’s in a loved one? Share your comments with us below.
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