Could Heavier Individuals Be At A Higher Risk For Alzheimer’s Disease?

As a person’a weight increases, so too does their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, according to a new brain imaging study presented in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In one of the largest studies examining the link between brain dysfunction and obesity, researchers analyzed over 35,000 functional neuroimaging scans involving more than 17,000 patients to get a better understanding of blood flow and brain activity in the area. Researchers examined a number of different regions of the brain when the body was in both a resting and active state, and they found that reduced blood flow was uncovered in virtually all brain regions as obesity increased. Essentially, as BMI increased, cerebral blood flow decreased, and that can be an indication of health problems to come.

Alzheimer’s Disease And Obesity

This finding is scary for a number of reasons, but the biggest of them all may be how low cerebral blood flow affects a person’s risk of developing cognitive disorders. Medical research has shown that low cerebral blood flow is the number one brain imaging predictor that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, inhibited brain blood flow is associated with a number of cognitive issues, including but not limited to:

“This study shows that being overweight or obese seriously impacts brain activity and increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease as well as many other psychiatric and cognitive conditions,” said Daniel G. Amen, MD, the study’s lead author and founder of Amen Clinics, one of the leading brain-centered mental health clinics in the United States.

This is especially concerning when you consider the state of our nation. The latest health data shows that 72 percent of Americans are overweight of whom 42 percent are obese, suggesting a cognitive decline could be coming as our population continues to age. However, there is hope, according to Dr. Amen.

“One of the most important lessons we have learned through 30 years of performing functional brain imaging studies is that brains can be improved when you put them in a healing environment by adopting brain-healthy habits, such as a healthy calorie-smart diet and regular exercise.”

So if you are concerned about your weight and how it could affect your cognition as you get older, or if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia, really strive to get your weight to a healthy level. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it to have better cognition long into your wonder years. And if you are having any cognitive impairments you want to talk with a specialist about, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.

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