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Weight and Obesity

Speculating On Fat and Dementia

11 years, 9 months ago

619  0
Posted on Oct 31, 2006, 5 a.m. By Bill Freeman

Overweight middle-aged adults tend to score more poorly on tests of memory, attention and learning ability than their thinner peers do, researchers reported Monday. The findings, they say, suggest that a heavier weight in middle age may mean a higher risk of dementia later in life. Reporting in the journal Neurology, the researchers speculate that higher rates of cardiovascular disease or diabetes might help explain the link. But it
Overweight middle-aged adults tend to score more poorly on tests of memory, attention and learning ability than their thinner peers do, researchers reported Monday.

The findings, they say, suggest that a heavier weight in middle age may mean a higher risk of dementia later in life.

Reporting in the journal Neurology, the researchers speculate that higher rates of cardiovascular disease or diabetes might help explain the link. But it’s also possible that substances produced by fat cells, such as the hormone leptin, have direct effects on the brain.

Both obesity and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, are becoming increasingly common, noted lead study author Dr. Maxime Cournot, of Toulouse University Hospital in France.

“Our results, along with other previous studies, strongly suggest a greater risk of dementia in these (overweight) persons at middle-age,” Cournot told Reuters Heath.

The study included 2,223 healthy French adults who were between the ages of 32 and 62 in 1996. At that time, they took a battery of standard cognitive tests, assessing abilities like memory, attention and speed of learning. Five years later, they took the tests again.

In general, the researchers found, people with a high body mass index (BMI) garnered lower test scores than those with a lower BMI. They also tended to show greater cognitive decline between the two test periods.

Factors such as age, education and general health did not seem to explain the link.

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