Could there be a link between your weight and an increased risk of dementia?  It is well known that central obesity increases ones risk of developing various diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, coronary heart disease and stroke.  We know that visceral fat is more metabolically active and produces more inflammation than subcutaneous fat, so the associated cardiovascular and metabolic conditions don’t come as a surprise.  With incidences of dementia and alzheimer’s rising along with obesity rates, researchers at Kaiser Permanente (KP) in Northern California investigated a possible correlation.  Their findings, published in Neurology, suggest a link does exist.

The study looked at 6,583 members of KP medical center who had routine check ups performed between 1964 and 1973.  The ages of the selected participants were 40 to 45 years at that time.  The check up included a measurement of their central obesity, reported in cm.  The researchers ascertained dementia status from January 1, 1994 to June 16, 2006 when the participants were 73 to 87 years of age.

In this population-based diverse cohort of middle-aged adults followed for an average of 36 years, central obesity was associated with an increased risk of dementia independent of demographics, diabetes, cardiovascular comorbidities and BMI.  Those overweight or obese without central obesity had an 80% increase in dementia risk; those both overweight or obese with central obesity had a 2.34-fold and 3.6-fold increase in dementia risk, respectively.

This study suggests that mechanisms behind dementia and alzheimer’s begin far before the disease manifests or symptoms present.  It would be fair to assume that identifying and targeting these mechanisms early on is an important step to avoid becoming another statistic.  Early detection and management is crucial in preventative medicine.  I wish for all my patients to live into their golden years free of the ravaging effects of dementia, so please call our office if you have some extra weight to lose.  It’s not just about looking good in a swimsuit, it’s to keep your intellect, wit, humor, personality and a lifetime of memories with you as you age.


Yours in Health,

Dr. Hall