A recent study has shown that being overweight or obese beginning in early adulthood is associated with increased aortic stiffness and decreased performance in a memory test around age 60. Similar to the impact of cigarette “pack-years” on health, the number of “obesity-years” has an impact on later memory as well.
Researchers investigated this in a 30-year follow up of participants in the United Kingdom Medical Research Council’s National Survey of Health and Development birth cohort study. They analyzed data from 1233 participants in the cohort study. Participants had complete data for BMI, aortic pulse-wave velocity, aortic calcification score and carotid IMT, which was determined at age 36,43,53 and 60 to 64. Participants were divided into seven groups based on their BMIs.
The most significant negative effect on later memory was seen in the participants that become obese at the youngest age, around their late 30s. Higher BMI was associated with worse performance in the word-recall test, even after adjustment for sex, heart rate, education and systolic blood pressure. The findings of this study were recently presented at the European Society of Hypertension’s.
Dr. Stefano Masi of University College London explains, “The main message is that cumulative exposure to obesity since age 36 is associated with later memory dysfunction and this impact seems to be independent of the acquisition of cardiovascular disease.” Still, this research also suggests that dropping one body-mass-index (BMI) category and maintaining this weight loss might reverse these negative effects to memory. Ultimately, the study shows that individuals can make a difference on their cognition by controlling their body weight. Masi emphasizes, “It’s [maintaining a healthy weight] an investment for the future.”
Masi speculated, “We know insulin resistance is a strong risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and when you have a period of weight loss and regain, that is a strong risk factor for insulin resistance.” Researchers plan to explore this further.
Original article: Medscape
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