A recent study involving 250 people has revealed that obesity during senior years may trigger mental decline, and not only physical as previously believed. The study participants, aging through 60s and 70s, were tested over the course of five years. Those with higher body fat levels were less successful in mental ability exams during that time.
The study, conducted by scientists from Seoul National University, measured the waists and BMI levels of each participant regularly, analyzing the information along with the results from ‘Mini Mental State Examinations.’ These short tests included simple questions in math, orientation and memory.
As the researchers predicted, the participants with lower body fat achieved higher scores in the exams. Interestingly, the gap narrowed in people over 70 years of age.
Dae Hyun Yoon, the lead author of the study, said: “Our findings have important public health implications. The prevention of obesity, particularly central obesity, might be important for the prevention of cognitive decline or dementia.”
The UK Alzheimer’s Society said “We have all heard how a high BMI is bad for our heart but this research suggests it could also be bad for the head.” The organization added that dementia wasn’t observed in the study. However, past research has implied that risk factors for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease can also cause dementia. Of
According to the Society, a third of people over the age of 65 will die with dementia. Still, this study, as well as others, has suggested that a balanced diet, regular exercise, and healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels can change the odds.