Obesity is associated with a higher risk of dementia up to 15 years later, finds a new UCL study suggesting that weight management could play a significant role in reducing risk.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, suggest that people who are obese in late adulthood face a 31% increased risk of dementia than those whose body mass index (BMI) is within the ‘normal’ range. The risk may be particularly high for women.

These findings provide new evidence that obesity may have important implications in terms of dementia risk. Both BMI and waist circumference status should be monitored to avoid metabolic dysregulations.  Hence, reducing weight to optimal levels is recommended by adopting healthy and balanced patterns of eating, such as the Mediterranean diet, appropriate physical exercise and reduced alcohol consumption throughout the course of the entire adult life span..
senior author Dr Dorina Cadar (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care)

It is possible that the association between obesity and dementia might be potentially mediated by other conditions, such as hypertension or anticholinergic treatments.  While not explored in this study, the research question of whether there an interactive effect between obesity and other midlife risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes and APOE ε4 carrier status,;in relation to dementia will be investigated in upcoming work
first author of the study“MSc student Yuxian Ma (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care)

Dementia is one of the major health challenges of the 21st century that could threaten successful ageing of the population. Our findings suggest that rising obesity rates will compound the issue. By identifying factors that may raise dementia risk that are influenced by lifestyle factors, we hope that a substantial portion, but admittedly not all, of dementia cases can be prevented through public health interventions.
>Co-author Professor Andrew Steptoe (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care and Director of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing)


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