Staying Fit to Stay Sharp

Obesity in 30s associated with higher risk of dementia

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Being obese in middle age can cause immediate health problems. But it may also affect brain health in the decades to come.

A recent study looked at the association between dementia and obesity. The researchers found that people who were obese in their 30s were much more likely to have dementia later in life.

They suggested that avoiding obesity could play a significant role in avoiding future dementia.

"Talk to a medical professional about a weight loss plan."

Dr. Michael Goldacre, of the Unit of Health-Care Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, led the study.

Obesity can increase the risk of multiple health problems later in life. This study looked at whether obesity increased the risk of dementia.

According to the authors, 35.6 million people worldwide had dementia in 2010. Dementia can make performing daily life activities difficult.

For this study, researchers looked at hospital medical records from 1999 to 2011. They identified 451,232 people who were hospitalized for obesity and took note of their ages.

The researchers also formed a control group of non-obese people who had visited a hospital with minor medical conditions.

Then, they searched medical records to find out which patients had been diagnosed with dementia.

The researchers found that people who had been diagnosed with obesity in their 30s were 3.5 times more likely to have dementia than those who were not obese at that time. Patients diagnosed with obesity in their 40s were 1.7 times more likely to have dementia.

They also found that people who were diagnosed as obese in their 80s had a reduced risk of dementia.

The researchers also reported that an obesity diagnosis from age 40 to 69 was tied to a higher risk of vascular dementia, which is caused by less blood flow to the brain.

However, an obesity diagnosis between the ages of 30 and 39 increased the risk of both conditions.

The authors of the study concluded that obesity in midlife could lead to dementia later in life.

They suggested that remaining at a healthy weight until at least age 60 may reduce dementia risk.

The study was published Aug. 20 in the Postgraduate Medical Journal.

The English National Institute for Health Research funded the study. The authors declared no competing interests.

Review Date: 
August 20, 2014
Last Updated:
August 21, 2014