A study conducted by a research team from the University of Oxford in England revealed preliminary data that point to a possible relationship between obesity and dementia, especially when people experience obesity in early to mid-adult ages, reported Pallavi Srivastava in an article for GIZMODO India (“How Obesity Can Cause Dementia In Old Age“).
The research team collected England’s hospital records from 1999 to 2011 and analyzed obesity cases.
Researchers examined 451,232 people with obesity and the resulting data suggested a 3.5 times higher risk for people between 30-39 years to develop dementia when compared to non-obese people.
The Oxford Team also observed that the risk rate by age and data seem to lead to a trend that the risk of suffering from dementia when a person is obese is higher if they are younger, and the risk reverts once people are over 70. Scientists pointed to a 70% higher risk to suffer from dementia for people in their 40s; 50% for those in their 50s; and 40% in their 60s.
Once people reach their 70s, there doesn’t seem to be a connection between obesity and dementia, and 22% of the people in that age bracket actually showed a lowered risk of suffering from the disease. In addition, the risk of dementia is apparently related to patient’s age when first diagnosed obese. These factors reinforce the possibility of a link between overweight in early life and a higher risk of dementia, according to the same article.
Even though there are already some clues on this possible link, further research may be necessary, as the article highlighted some aspects of the previous research that may constitute a limitation. The first limitation was that the study used as a reference all the visits to the doctor, excluding people who didn’t plan or schedule for one. Another aspect was that to the conclusion that, while obese people in their 30s are three times more likely do have the disease, the correspondence is 19 people from a total of 451,232.
In addition, it wasn’t possible to assess the relationship between obesity and other risk factors like diabetes or high-blood pressure, which may also increase the possibility to develop dementia.
Dementia already affects millions of people, and it is estimated that it will hit 36 million diagnoses worldwide by 2050.