Greater weight loss during aging associated with increased risk of mild cognitive impairment, study suggests

Published 1 February 2016

Increasing weight loss per decade as people aged from midlife to later life has been associated with an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

This is according to an article published online by JAMA Neurology today (Monday 1 February 2016).

Researchers identified 524 of 1,895 cognitively normal participants who developed MCI. Others factors may have played a role, as those who developed MCI were older, more likely to be carriers of a specific gene, and more likely to have diabetes, hypertension, stroke or coronary artery disease compared with study participants who remained cognitively normal. 

Participants who developed MCI had a greater average weight change per decade from midlife than those who remained cognitively normal (-4.4 lbs vs. -2.6 lbs).

People with MCI are at an increased risk of developing dementia

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer's Society said:

'We need to be careful when interpreting these results because the minor differences in weight loss shown here, less than a kilo over a decade, are of much smaller consideration than the effects of the other health conditions that these participants with memory problems had, like diabetes, hypertension or coronary heart disease.

'While the evidence on body weight and dementia is unclear, we know that making positive lifestyle choices can help people keep their brains healthy - taking regular exercise, not smoking and following a healthy balanced diet. It is not unusual for people to lose weight as they get older, but anyone concerned about large, unintentional weight loss should speak to their doctor.'

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