New research published in Dementia News from the The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology looking at close to 2 million UK medical health records has suggested that your Body Mass Index (BMI) might be linked to dementia risk.
The results reiterate that being underweight could increase your risk of dementia, as previously stated on the Alzheimer’s Australia Your Brain Matters dementia risk reduction website.
They analysed data from 1,958,191 individuals (obtained from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink), which included people aged 40 years or older whose BMIs were recorded between 1992 and 2007.
In this latest study, the analysis showed that dementia occurred in 45,507 people of the total number of people analysed in this dataset. When compared to people who were within a healthy weight range (and BMI), underweight people had a 34% increased risk of dementia. They also reported that people in the overweight or obese BMI range had a 29% reduced risk of dementia compared to those within the healthy BMI range. However this result should be taken with caution not only are there various scientific papers which contradict this current finding, having a BMI of 25 or above could lead to other health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke, heart disease and respiratory disease to name a few.
The lead researcher on the study, Dr Nawab Qizilbash from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, admitted the results were unexpected but told BBC News in an interview:
“You can’t walk away and think it’s OK to be overweight or obese. Even if there is a protective effect, you may not live long enough to get the benefits,” Dr Qizilbash said.
Suha Ali, Alzheimer’s Australia’s National Risk Reduction Manager, said that this data emphasises that if you are ever concerned about your weight you should definitely speak to your doctor or a health professional to seek advice.
“As with all research, these results all form part of a larger puzzle. The evidence we have to date suggests that following a brain healthy life, which includes maintaining a healthy weight range, is the best strategy to reduce one’s risk of developing dementia,” Ms Ali said.
The researchers now plan on undertaking further investigation to fully understand their results.
For more information on dementia risk reduction please visit the Alzheimer’s Australia Your Brain Matters website.
Note: BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared. According to the Australian government’s Department of Health website, a normal range BMI is considered to be between 18.50 and 25. However caution should always be taken when using BMIs in health research as they can be influenced by age, gender and ethnicity.