Middle-age obesity can bring about dementia: Oz study

March 5th, 2011 - 4:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Mar 5 (ANI): A study has found that of the more than 1000 Australians, who are diagnosed with dementia, many are suffering from it due to being overweight in middle age.

The long-term studies of the relationship between dementia and body weight has found that people who have been overweight or obese have two to three times the risk of suffering dementia in old age a few years later.

The Australian National University’s centre for mental health research reached that conclusion after assessing the results of reputable studies from around the world involving a total of more than 25,000 people.

Kaarin Anstey, a professor at the centre, said the risk of dementia for those aged over 60 rose with body weight in earlier middle life, between the ages of 40 and 60.

“This evidence suggests that while the hormones present in body fat were previously believed to protect cognitive function, it now appears that excess fat in middle age may be extremely harmful over the long term,” the Age quoted Anstey as saying.

The analysis also found that there was a higher risk of dementia in old age among those who had been extremely underweight in middle age, but Anstey said it was likely different processes were involved in triggering that phenomenon.

“Practitioners and policymakers should be concerned not just with the short-term effects obesity has on quality of life, but also about the long-term effects that obesity can have on the ageing process,” Anstey added.

Anstey said that given the results covered people who were much less likely to have been overweight in their youth than was the case today, the results were a warning bell for the future.

Glenn Rees, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Australia, said the findings underline the need for policymakers to treat dementia not just as a condition of old age but as a chronic disease which can be countered with improved health care and education earlier. (ANI)

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