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Obesity and diabetes increase risk of dementia, study suggests

Published 20 August 2012

Obesity in middle age could be a major risk factor for dementia, according to new research published in Neurology.

Scientists at the French medical research institution INSERM examined the cognitive function, body mass index and conditions such as diabetes and blood pressure of 6,401 adults aged between 39 and 63 over a 12 year period. Results showed that participants who were either overweight or obese and had at least two metabolic abnormalities had the fastest cognitive decline, whilst obesity and conditions such as diabetes were individually found to have a significant effect on cognition.

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'We all know that piling on the pounds is bad for your physical health, but this robust study suggests that it is bad for the head as well as the heart. These results back up existing evidence that obesity in mid-life increases the risk of developing dementia, as well as adding to our understanding of the relationship between dementia and our metabolism.

'One in three people over the age of 65 will die with some form of dementia. The best way of reducing your risk of developing dementia is to eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked.'

Jessica Smith
Research Officer
Alzheimer's Society