Zaftig, rotund, full-figured, well-rounded—whichever euphemism you choose to describe a few extra pounds in middle age, the good news is that the extra weight may mean a healthier memory later in life, according to a recent Psychiatry Advisor article
According to a report published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology
, a new study suggests that those who are overweight or obese in middle age may be less likely to develop dementia than their more svelte peers.
In the study of nearly two million people, Nawab Qizilbash, MD, of OXON Epidemiology Ltd. in Madrid, analyzed nearly 20 years of medical records of adults whose average age was 55 when the study began. In the 15 years after the study commenced, 45,507 of the participants developed dementia.
The study found that overweight and obese people were about 30% less likely to develop dementia 15 years later than people of a healthy weight. Conversely, underweight people were 34% more likely to develop dementia than those whose weight was normal, according to the study authors.
Researchers found that the association between weight and dementia held up even after they factored in when the participants were born and their age at diagnosis. Other noted dementia risk factors like drinking alcohol and smoking made little difference in the results, researchers noted.
Another prominent scientist who reviewed the methodology and results of the study questioned the validity of the conclusions. An editorial accompanying the journal article said that since there are genetic components to both weight and dementia, the role of weight by itself isn't clear, and more research is needed before meaningful conclusions might be drawn.