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Obesity at Midlife and the Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer Disease

Vascular risk factors are known to play a role in the development of dementia, including Alzheimer disease (AD). However, little is known about the effect of body mass index and clustering of vascular risk factors on the development of dementia//.

Recently a study, published in the October issue of Archives of Neurology, was conducted with the objective to investigate the relation between midlife body mass index and clustering of vascular risk factors and subsequent dementia and AD.

Participants of the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia (CAIDE) study were derived from random, population-based samples previously studied in a survey carried out in 1972, 1977, 1982, or 1987. After an average follow-up of 21 years, 1449 individuals (73%) aged 65 to 79 years participated in the reexamination in 1998. The study found that dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD) were much more common among those who had a body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) higher than 30 at midlife.

People with the highest midlife BMI were also more likely to have a history of heart attack and diabetes. The study concluded that midlife obesity, high systolic blood pressure (SBP), and high total cholesterol level were all associated with an increased risk of dementia and AD later in life. Clustering of vascular risk factors increases the risk in an additive manner. The role of weight reduction for the prevention of dementia needs to be further investigated.

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