Obesity increases the risk of dementia

Obesity increases the risk of dementia

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Effects of obesity on the risk of dementia

Obesity seems to significantly increase the risk of dementia over the years. This shows the important role that weight management plays in minimizing the risk of developing dementia.

A study by University College London found that obesity significantly increased the risk of developing dementia. This increased risk persists for years. The study results were published in the English-language journal "Journal of Epidemiology".

Data from more than 6,500 people were analyzed

The data of 6,582 people were evaluated for the study. Three different sources were used to determine dementia: medical diagnoses, reports from those affected and statistics from hospitals.

Contradictory results in older studies

Current clinical guidelines suggest that obesity is an important changeable risk factor for dementia related to individual lifestyle. However, the relationship has remained somewhat unclear due to conflicting results from various studies, the researchers report. There was even some evidence that obesity could be seen as a protective health factor in older adults.

31 percent higher risk of dementia

However, the current study found that people with a BMI of 30 or higher (at the obese level) at the start of the study period had a 31 percent higher risk of dementia than those with a BMI of 18 with an average medical surveillance of 11 years , 5 to 24.9 (normal level). The researchers emphasize that this shows that obesity can have an important impact on the risk of dementia.

Looking at the BMI and waist circumference in combination, obese participants of both sexes showed a 28 percent higher risk of dementia compared to people with normal weight, the team reports.

How can I reduce my BMI and waist size?

Both the BMI and the status of the waist circumference should be monitored to avoid so-called metabolic dysregulation. It is therefore recommended to reduce the weight to an optimal level, for example by adopting healthy and balanced eating habits, increasing physical activity and reducing alcohol consumption.

Women were particularly badly affected

There was also a significant gender difference in the risk of dementia related to obesity. Women with abdominal obesity (increased belly fat) had a 39 percent higher risk of dementia compared to women with a normal BMI. This increased risk was independent of age, education, marital status, smoking, genetics, diabetes and high blood pressure. Such a connection could not be observed in male participants.

Why does obesity increase the risk of dementia?

Previous research indicated that obesity could directly increase the risk of dementia by directly affecting cytokines (cell signaling proteins) and hormones derived from fat cells, and indirectly by adversely affecting vascular risk factors. Some researchers also believe that excess body fat could increase the risk of dementia by affecting metabolism and blood vessels, which in turn can contribute to the accumulation of amyloid proteins or lesions in the brain.

Increasing rates of obesity lead to more dementia

Dementia and obesity are among the greatest health challenges of the 21st century. The results of the current study now indicate that rising rates of obesity will further aggravate the dementia problem. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Yixuan Ma, Olesya Ajnakina, Andrew Steptoe, Dorina Cadar: Higher risk of dementia in English older individuals who are overweight or obese, in Journal of Epidemiology (published June 23, 2020), Journal of Epidemiology

Video: Obesity could increase your chance of dementia (September 2022).


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