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BMI: A double-edged sword in your risk of dementia

Gastric band Surgery In France BMI: A double-edged sword in your risk of dementia An analysis of international data on more than a million people who were followed over time confirms two links between BMI and dementia – one ties midlife obesity to higher risk, and the other ties being underweight near disease onset to higher risk. New research clarifies how both obesity and lower-than-average BMI are linked to dementia. A report on the longitudinal study, which was conducted by researchers across Europe and led by University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, is published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. The findings may explain the mixed evidence on the relationship between higher body mass index (BMI) and dementia risk; there is some that points to higher BMI being tied to raised risk, and there is some that suggests the opposite. The reason for the confusion is because there are two things going on, says lead study author Mika Kivimäki, who is a professor in UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health. “One is an adverse effect of excess body fat on dementia risk,” he notes. “The other is weight loss due to preclinical dementia.” This might explain why those who develop dementia tend to have above-average BMI two decades before disease symptoms appear, but nearer the time of onset, their BMI is lower than healthy counterparts who do not develop it. Dementia numbers rising Worldwide, there are around 47 million people living with dementia, an irreversible, deteriorating brain disease that progressively diminishes ability to remember, think, and live independently. The risk of developing dementia rises with age, and because of the rising number of elderly people in the world, global numbers of the disease are soaring. As there is currently no cure for dementia, or even treatments that slow it down, the already huge impact that the disease has on individuals, their families, communities, health systems, and costs will become overwhelming. Estimates suggest that by 2030, there will be 75 million people living with dementia worldwide, rising to 132 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease – a condition that gradually destroys cells and tissue in the brain – is the main cause of dementia, accounting for around 65 percent of cases. While estimates vary, it is thought that there are around 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, where dementia is a leading cause of death among older people. High midlife BMI means higher dementia risk For their new study, Prof. Kivimäki and colleagues pooled and analyzed data from 39 longitudinal population studies. Altogether, the data covered a total of 1,349,857 individuals from France, Finland, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S. All were free of dementia when they enrolled and underwent measurement of weight and height to assess their BMI. By searching hospital and prescription records and death registries, the studies had established that 6,894 of the participants developed

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