Mid-life obesity raises dementia risk
Obesity may increase risk of dementia for people who experience the condition in early to mid-life, according to a new study.
Scientists at the University of Oxford in the U.K. analyzed data on more than 450,000 individuals with obesity, 57 percent of whom were women. The researchers looked at their hospital records between 1999 and 2011 and specifically at care received for dementia.
The researchers found that the individuals between ages 30 and 39 with obesity were about 3.5 times more likely to develop dementia when compared with people the same age who did not have obesity. People with obesity in this age group were also found to be the most likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease—the most common form of dementia.
While previous studies have found that obesity may be associated with increased risk of dementia, the new study, published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, suggests that the risk may also be dependent on age. The study also found that in older age groups, individuals with obesity were still more likely to develop dementia than non-obese individuals, but the risk of developing dementia among the people with obesity decreased with age.
The researchers called the findings “surprising” but noted that they do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. If further studies can confirm that dementia is a hazard of obesity, they will add to the importance of addressing the epidemic, researchers concluded.