Researchers explain how obesity raises dementia risk

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Researchers from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, have explained that obesity, not diet or inactivity raises the risk of dementia.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, the researchers explained in their paper, that previous studies have found an association between a low body mass index and the likelihood of receiving a diagnosis of dementia within the next five to 10 years.

The lead author of the study, Dr Sarah Floud, said other studies that lasted a decade or less have also linked poor diet and lack of exercise with the incidence of dementia.

She said, “Low body mass index, poor diet and lack of exercise may be the result of reverse causality, meaning that they may be consequences, rather than causes, of dementia. This situation could well be possible because dementia typically affects cognition a decade before the person formally receives a diagnosis.”

“During the preclinical stage, the condition can slowly but gradually affect behavior, impair mental and physical activity, reduce the intake of food and calories, and cause weight loss.”

The researchers examined 1,136,846 women in the United Kingdom in the study published in the journal, Neurology.

The study population had an average age of 56 years and were free of dementia at the start of the study between 1996 and 2001.

“Some previous studies have suggested a poor diet or a lack of exercise may increase a person’s risk of dementia. However, our study found these factors are not linked to the long-term risk of dementia. The short-term links between dementia, inactivity, and low-calorie intake are likely to be the result of the earliest signs of the disease before symptoms start to show.”

“On the other hand, obesity in midlife was linked with dementia 15 or more years later. Obesity is a well-established risk factor for a cerebrovascular disease which contributes to dementia later in life,” Floud said.

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