A fluctuating body mass index (BMI) over the course of a person’s middle age could be correlated with an increased risk of dementia. A study of 2045 participants conducted over nearly four decades has revealed that an increasing BMI in early mid-life, followed by a declining one in late mid-life, is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College and Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine conducted the study. It has been published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
As part of the study, BMI trajectories made using group-based trajectory models were created for 2045 non-demented Framingham Offspring participants between the ages of 30 to 50 years. To determine the effect of BMI decline patterns, researchers followed up with the participants over 39 years. Participants completed up to nine health examinations, each averaging about four years apart. Out of the sample, a total of 76 participants developed dementia.
Results showed an association between decreasing BMI trends and a higher risk of developing dementia in late life. Within this, a subgroup of people whose BMI increased in early mid-life and declined in later mid-life was at a greater risk of developing the degenerative disease.
ANI quoted Dr Rhoda Au, PhD, professor of anatomy and neurobiology and the corresponding author for the study, saying that “these findings are important because previous studies that looked at weight trajectories didn’t consider how patterns of weight gain/stability/loss might help signal that dementia is potentially imminent."
Au explained that it is relatively easy for individuals, family members, and primary care physicians to monitor weight. “If after a steady increase in weight that is common as one gets older, there is an unexpected shift to losing weight post midlife, it might be good to consult with one’s healthcare provider and pinpoint why." She also said that there are some potential treatments are emerging “where early detection might be critical in the effectiveness of any of these treatments."
The researchers hope the study will show how dementia risk develops across many years, probably across the entire lifespan.
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