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Link Between Excess Weight in Midlife and Dementia

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Link Between Excess Weight in Midlife and Dementia

A recent meta-analysis (statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies) undertaken in the UK (1) has identified a positive link between obesity in mid-life and later life dementia.  It was also noted that the statistical review indicated the opposite in late life, which was unexpected.   Most of the studies included in these analyses were conducted either in the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia and Israel. The work selected for assessment included a total of 62,425 subjects, both males and females.

Obesity can increase chances of developing dementiaThe results of this meta-analyses show a correlation with being overweight/obese below the age of 65 years (in midlife) and the later development of dementia, although the opposite for aged 65 and over.

The study suggests that by reducing obesity prevalence to 20% over the next 10 years could lead to a 10% reduction in the number of people aged 65–69 with dementia.

The negative association with regard to late life obesity and dementia could reflect that maintaining ones weight in later life can be a sign of health, and that unplanned weight loss is a cause for concern (e.g. due to the onset of illness or disease).   


What is Dementia? (2)

  • Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning. 
  • Dementia is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning.
  • There are many types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy Body disease.


Why is this Study Important ? (2)

  • Three in ten people over the age of 85 and almost one in ten people over 65 have dementia in Australia
  • An estimated 1.2 million people are involved in the care of a person with dementia in AustraliaObesity can increase chances of developing dementia
  • Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and there is no cure
  • Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians (aged 65 years or older) and the third leading cause of disability burden overall
  • Australia faces a shortage of carers for people with dementia
  • Dementia will become the third greatest source of health and residential aged care spending within two decades. These costs alone will be around 1% of GDP
  • By the 2060s, spending on dementia is set to outstrip that of any other health condition.

This study shows that retaining a healthy body weight in midlife, between the ages of 40 and 65, may likely reduce the prevalence of the onset of dementia later in life.  This will not only improve your quality of life but go a long way in reducing the burden of health care for the elderly



  1. The risk of overweight/obesity in mid-life and late life for the development of dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies.   Emilio Pedditizi, Ruth peters, Nigel Beckett



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