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Study Probes Complex Links Between Weight, Alzheimer’s

A new study investigates the relationship between body mass index and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Some studies have discovered people who are overweight in middle age are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease decades later than people at normal weight. Additional studies have found that people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI).

In the new investigation, researchers examined 506 people using advanced brain imaging techniques and cerebrospinal fluid analysis to look for Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers. These biomarkers can be present years before the first symptoms.

Study participants included people with no memory problems, people with mild cognitive impairment, or mild memory problems, and people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers discovered a link between Alzheimer’s biomarkers and a lower BMI in people with no memory or thinking problems and in people with mild cognitive impairment.

For example, 85 percent of the people with mild cognitive impairment who had a BMI below 25 had signs of the beta-amyloid plaques in their brains that are a hallmark of the disease, compared to 48 percent of those with mild cognitive impairment who were overweight.

“These results suggest Alzheimer’s disease brain changes are associated with systemic metabolic changes in the very earliest phases of the disease,” said study author Jeffrey M. Burns, M.D., M.S. “This might be due to damage in the area of the brain called the hypothalamus that plays a role in regulating energy metabolism and food intake.

“Further studies should investigate whether this relationship reflects a systemic response to an unrecognized disease or a long-standing trait that predisposes a person to developing the disease.”

The study will be published in the print issue of Neurology.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Study Probes Complex Links Between Weight, Alzheimer’s

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Study Probes Complex Links Between Weight, Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/11/22/study-probes-complex-links-between-weight-alzheimers/31774.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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