Obesity Associated With Faster Cognitive Decline (BBC News / NHS Choices / Neurology)

[A brief reference to this item appears in: Dementia and Elderly Care: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 3 Issue 3, October 2012].


Being overweight has been linked to decline in mental performance. Metabolic changes such as high blood sugar and raised cholesterol are likely to be involved.

Information on body mass index (BMI) and common risk factors was gathered at the beginning of the study. Metabolic abnormality was defined as having two or more of the main risk factors:

  1. High blood pressure and / or receiving medication for it;.
  2. Low HDL or “good” cholesterol.
  3. High blood sugar and / or taking diabetes medication.
  4. High triglycerides and /or taking medication to lower cholesterol.

The study, printed in Neurology, involved 6,401 people with an average age 50. The participants took tests on memory, and other cognitive skills, three times during the next 10 years.

Just over 30% of participants had two or more metabolic abnormalities. 9% were obese and 38% were overweight. Of the 582 obese people, 60% had metabolic abnormality. Over the 10 years of this study, people who were both obese and metabolically abnormal showed a 22.5% faster decline in cognitive test scores, compared to participants who were of normal weight and without metabolic abnormalities.

Read more: BBC News: Obesity ‘bad for brain’ by hastening cognitive decline.


Obesity ‘bad for brain’ by hastening cognitive decline. London: BBC News, August 21st 2012.

Full Text Link (a)


Can avoiding obesity stave off mental decline? London: NHS Choices, August 21st 2012.

Full Text Link (b) (Note: This article requires a suitable Athens password, a journal subscription or payment for access).


Singh-Manoux, A. Czernichow, S. [and] Elbaz, A. [et al] (2012). Obesity phenotypes in midlife and cognition in early old age. The Whitehall II cohort study. Neurology, August 21st 2012, Vol.79(8), pp.755-762.

About Dementia and Elderly Care News

Dementia and Elderly Care News. Wolverhampton Medical Institute: WMI. (jh)
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