Obesity can increase effects of Alzheimer’s disease, study finds

Dementia: Alzheimer’s Research explain how to get diagnosed

Maintaining a healthy weight could help people who are already experiencing mild dementia, researchers found. Being overweight in mid-life could also have an impact on brain health in old age. But waiting until later life to shed the pounds may be too late to guard against this risk.

Scientists from the University of Sheffield and the University of Eastern Finland compiled the research. The team stressed their study does not show that obesity causes Alzheimer’s but said people should think about exercising.

Professor Annalena Venneri, from the University of Sheffield’s Neuroscience Institute, said: “The diseases that cause dementia, such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, lurk in the background for many years, so waiting until your 60s to lose weight is too late.

“Being overweight is an additional burden on brain health and it may exacerbate the disease.

“We need to start thinking about brain health and preventing these diseases much earlier.”

 The study examined MRI brain scans from 47 patients clinically diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s, ­68 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 57 cognitively healthy individuals.

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It looked at the anatomy of the brain, blood flow and also the fibres of the brain and revealed obesity may contribute toward “neural tissue vulnerability”.

Richard Oakley, of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We know obesity is a risk factor for dementia, and this study tells us more about the impact obesity has on brain health.”

Mr Oakley said that 40 per cent of all dementia cases might be preventable and urged everyone to keep active.

He said: “Swap the biscuits for a piece of fruit because research has shown that keeping your body healthy can help keep your brain healthy too.”

The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports.

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