Study confirms link between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease

Font Size:

The link between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease has been confirmed by a new study that concludes “weight hurts the brain”.

In May, YourLifeChoices reported on an Australian study that found a link between obesity and shrinkage in an area of the brain responsible for memory and learning – the hippocampus.

The new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, analysed blood flow in the brain. It categorised participants on the basis of their body mass index (BMI), which divides height by weight.

As Science Daily put it: “Low cerebral blood flow is the number one brain imaging predictor that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. It is also associated with depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury, addiction, suicide, and other conditions.”

Participants classified as overweight, obese and morbidly obese had lower blood flow to virtually all brain regions, including the temporal lobes and the hippocampus. The researchers found that blood flow to the brain worsened as BMI increased.

Low brain blood flow was noted in participants in a resting state and while undertaking concentration tasks.

“This study shows that being overweight or obese seriously impacts brain activity and increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease as well as many other psychiatric and cognitive conditions,” explained Daniel G. Amen, MD, the study’s lead.

One in three Australians were obese in 2017–2018, says the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), up from 19 per cent in 1995.

The AIHW says excess weight, especially obesity, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, psychological issues, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers.

“As the level of excess weight increases, so does the risk of developing these conditions.” 

Obesity is defined as “a treatable disease that is a worldwide health concern associated with having an excess amount of body fat”.

Advocacy site obesityaction.org says obesity is “caused by genetic and environmental factors and can be difficult to control through dieting alone”.

George Perry, PhD, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, said: “Acceptance that Alzheimer’s disease is a lifestyle disease, little different from other age-related diseases, that is the sum of a lifetime is the most important breakthrough of the decade. Dr Amen and collaborators provide compelling evidence that obesity alters blood supply to the brain to shrink the brain and promote Alzheimer’s disease. This is a major advance because it directly demonstrates how the brain responds to our body.”

The study underlines excess weight as one of the major issues facing the health of the Western world. However, Dr Amen sees hope.

“One of the most important lessons we have learnt through 30 years of performing functional brain imaging studies is that brains can be improved when you put them in a healing environment by adopting brain-healthy habits, such as a healthy calorie-smart diet and regular exercise.”

He believes the findings prove people have way more control than they think over developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“Weight hurts the brain. I want people to care enough about their brains that they will work to get their bodies healthy,” says Dr Amen.

Another study, published in February, argued that “obesity should be considered premature ageing because of its strong association to chronic health issues that typically appear in old age, like weaker immune systems, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease”.

In the study, the researchers examined over 200 papers reporting the effects of obesity on every part of the body. They concluded that the health impact of obesity mirrors ageing: impaired genomes and mitochondrial function, a weaker immune system and chronic inflammation.

Obesity even affected the cellular level, harming mitochondrial DNA integrity and telomeres, which are associated with life expectancy and ageing.

“I ask people to list as many co-morbidities of obesity as they can,” said Sylvia Santosa, an associate professor of health, kinesiology, and applied physiology at Concordia University.

“Then I ask how many of those co-morbidities are associated with ageing. Most people will say, all of them. There is certainly something that is happening in obesity that is accelerating our ageing process.”

Health website beingpatient.com says recent studies linked obesity with the risk of developing dementia and larger waist size and higher blood pressure can contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.

“The ways in which obesity is linked to Alzheimer’s are many and varied — and researchers are still exploring all the complex ways weight, heart health and physical inactivity impact the brain. One thing many experts do agree on, however, is that exercise and diet can have a significant effect on brain health — and these lifestyle changes may prevent dementia, or at least slow its progression.”

Are you worried about your weight? Do you know your BMI? Have you noted any correlation between weight and memory issues in older friends or family?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

Join
By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

RELATED LINKS

Australian researchers discover link between weight and Alzheimer’s

Researchers find a link between obesity and shrinkage in the brain.

Disrupted sleep linked to clogged arteries and heart disease

Sleep scientists tie disrupted slumber to the deadly plaque build-up known as atheroscl

Oxytocin could be used to treat cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s

The ‘love hormone' may play an important role in Alzheimer's prevention.

Written by Will Brodie

5 Comments

Total Comments: 5
  1. 0
    0

    I don’t know why they just link everything to Alzheimer’s because that is what it seems like
    If you are going to get it then so be it when you number is up it’s up

  2. 0
    0

    As a man of science, Rocky might first at least pretend that he actually read the article to which he’s responding.

  3. 0
    0

    Nonsense! I had two family members who died with alzheimers. They were both thin as a rake.

  4. 0
    0

    I have an aunt and uncle both are skinny and have always been so, yet both have alzheimer’s, also have a friend just diagnosed and she is also a skinny minnie. We all remember Hazel Hawke and she wasn’t obese.Perhaps there is a link but I’m sure there are many factors with genetics possibly leading. Dementia in it’s many forms has been around for many years well before this epidemic of obesity.

  5. 0
    0

    “Health website beingpatient.com says recent studies linked obesity with the risk of developing dementia and larger waist size and higher blood pressure can contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.”
    This sentence inserted into the article confuses Alzheimer’s disease (destruction of parts of the brain or brain shrinkage) which is 70% of all Dementias, the other 30% being failure of signalling between brain cells.
    Thus one might be thin (Hazel Hawke) and still have dementia but not have Alzheimer’s.


FACEBOOK COMMENTS



SPONSORED LINKS

continue reading

Property

Small bedroom tips to maximise space and style

For many of us, house space is a fiercely contested commodity, and you need to squeeze the most out of...

COVID-19

Aussies much more willing to be vaccinated than Americans

The United States has had nearly as many COVID-19 cases as Australia has people. More than 400,000 have died of...

Stylewatch

Goldie Hawn at 75: The Hollywood star's fashion and beauty evolution

Goldie Hawn, one of Hollywood's most beloved stars, is famous as much for her acting talents as she is for...

Government

US still reels from the deadly consequences of 'alternative facts'

Jennifer S. Hunt, Australian National University Every four years on January 20, the US exercises a key tenet of democratic...

COVID-19

Tennis stars call Australian Open quarantine 'insane' and like prison

Entitled, pampered, whingers. Elite sports professionals victims of the greatest overreaction to COVID-19 in the world. Those are the poles...

Finance News

RBA reveals why retirees have to bear the brunt of low interest rates

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) knows that the negative consequences of low interest rates disproportionately affect retirees, but believes...

Diseases

Blood pressure medication helps even the frailest seniors live longer

Taking blood pressure medication as prescribed helps seniors aged 65 and over people live longer. And the healthiest older people...

Estate planning & wills

Common mistakes when writing your will

It can be daunting and even overwhelming at times, but writing your will is an essential part of planning for...

LOADING MORE ARTICLE...