Overweight Americans More Prone To Cognitive Decline

According to new research published in the latest issue of The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological and Medical Sciences, individuals with higher midlife body mass index (BMI) scores had significantly lower general cognitive ability and significantly steeper decline than their thinner counterparts over time.

“Because of improved medical care of cardiovascular disease many obese individuals reach old age,” said Jesse Slome executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  “They are far more likely to incur health problems in their old age  which now appear to include dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.”  Long-term care insurers do not offer good health discounts to applicants who are overweight.

The study compiled data from a study of Swedish twins that took place over the course of nearly 40 years, from 1963 to 2002; the results were the same for both men and women.  Other studies reported in the journal show that obesity appears particularly threatening in the presence of other health problems, such as poor muscle strength and depression.

Similarly, changes in weight also signify declines in overall health. A team of researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, found that such fluctuations are significant indicators of future physical limitations and mortality in the elderly. Researchers used data from the Cardiovacscular Health Study, which included information from over 3,000 individuals aged 65 and older from 1992 to 1999.

 They discovered that a history of cyclically losing and gaining weight increased a person’s chance of having difficulty with activities of daily living – bathing, dressing, eating, etc. – by 28 percent.

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