Scientists find link between Alzheimer’s onset and midlife BMI

Our mental health has strong links with our body weight. Findings of a new study are suggesting that the body weight of a middle-aged person not only influences his or her chances of having Alzheimer’s disease but also decides when the person will develop the condition.

Since a long time scientists have highlighted high midlife BMI as a possible risk factor for dementia, a condition characterized by progressive psychological deterioration.

Researchers at the National Institute on Aging, which is a part of the National Institutes of Health, carried out a study for gathering more information about the relation between an individual’s middle age body weight and Alzheimer’s. They examined data of volunteers participating in the BLSA (Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging). For those who don’t know: the BLSA is one of the longest running researches conducted for collecting information on human aging in North America.

A total of 1,394 individuals, each of whom was cognitively normal when the study began, took part in the study. Out of them, 142 had Alzheimer’s disease later in their lives. Assessment of health data of these participants allowed the researchers to conclude that weight problems experienced in midlife might be precursors of early onset of this debilitating neurodegenerative disorder.

The researchers found that among the participants who eventually fell prey to the condition, high midlife BMI was associated with early arrival of Alzheimer’s. For instance, people who had a BMI of 30 i.e. people who had been obese during midlife developed dementia one year earlier compared to people who were overweight and had a BMI of 28 in midlife.

It’s true that more studies will have to be conducted for determining the association between midlife BMI and Alzheimer’s onset; however, one thing can be said confidently that the findings of this new study have successfully shown how important it is to have a healthy body weight even for middle-aged people.

Recently obtained statistics suggest that Alzheimer’s disease affect around 5 million people in the United States alone. Experts are anticipating that in absence of a medical breakthrough, this number would become more than double in the next 35 years as the average age of the country’s population will become much higher.