As obesity rates continue to soar among all age groups in the U.S. and most other countries, the incidence of chronic diseases spawned by excess abdominal fat follows on a parallel course. Medical scientists have repeatedly confirmed that risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and dementia increases in direct relation to overweight and obesity measurements.
A widely accepted falsehood is that mental decline is a natural part of the aging process. Researchers now posit that expanding waistlines are the primary cause of mental deterioration among the middle-age and senior populations.
A study team from the French research institute INSERM in Paris has published the result of a study in the prestigious journal Neurology that demonstrates how increased blood pressure and other metabolic factors resulting from excess body weight causes middle-aged and older adults to experience a rapid decline in cognitive skills. Small increase in biomarkers such as blood pressure and blood glucose result in dramatically increased risk for many morbid illnesses, especially dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
To conduct their study, researchers analyzed data on 6,400 participants, 71 percent of whom were men with an average age 50. The study period began in 1991, defined as the start of the 10-year study time frame. At the outset, the study team gathered data on the participants’ metabolic status and body mass index (BMI), a well-known measure of overweight and obesity. At three defined points over the study period, the participants were administered tests to assess cognitive skills such as memory, reasoning, and verbal fluency.
Improving abnormal biomarkers and losing weight lowers risk of cognitive decline by one-quarter
In addition to recording changes in BMI, the scientists also noted alterations in metabolic factors such as blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides. High-range readings in two or more of these categories fell into the classification of ‘metabolic abnormalities,’ known risk factors for many conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. Initial readings showed that 31 percent of the participants fell into the metabolically abnormal class, nine percent were obese, and 38 percent were overweight.
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