What an unlikely discovery! A large study found that middle-aged people who also suffer from obesity are 30 percent less likely to develop any form of dementia.
Previous research suggested that obesity might be a leading cause of getting diagnosed with mental illnesses from this spectrum – but this study comes to argue against that. Almost 2 million medical records were used as data for the research.
Professor Stuart Pocock, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explains these results came up in the search for alternative avenues in the issue of preventing dementia. If scientists can figure out why a higher body mass index (BMI) is related to a lower risk of dementia, they might be able to come up with new treatments, somewhere down the line.
The participants were an average 55 years of age and were studies over 9 years follow-up. During that timeframe, almost 50,000 people received a dementia diagnosis. The results based on the medical records showed that underweight people had 34% more chances to develop dementia.
This increased risk lingered for many years after the underweight was recorded, sometimes even for 15 years. But, when the middle-aged participants’ BMI increased, the chances of dementia decreased – up to the point where a BMI greater than 40 kg/m2 translated in a 29% less possibility of getting dementia than people with a healthy weight.
Study’s lead author, Nawab Qizilbash from OXON Epidemiology, a clinical research organization, explained that the reason behind this strange correlation between a high BMI and a lower risk of dementia remains unknown. It requires further research and more observations, in order to understand why this is the case.
Qizilbash added that such research is important for its inverse applications – if being overweight protects people of middle-age against dementia, it would be surprising to find out what triggers it, and transform that knowledge into a preventive treatment. More factors, however, might play a major role, such as genetic factors, exercise, diet, and weight change.
Image Source: Huffington Post