A study has found that older adults who attempt to lose weight after experiencing a steady increase for years are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Professor Rhoda Au, a study co-author at Boston University School of Medicine, patients in their midlife who experience a sudden shift of weight loss after years of steadily increasing weight should consult their doctors. Sudden weight loss at this age could be an indication of the cognitive decline that is common with Alzheimer’s disease. For this reason, consulting your doctor to find the root cause of weight loss could help detect the disease and begin early treatment.
Patients should watch out for warning signs of dementia
These findings indicate that dementia doesn’t occur suddenly but instead develops gradually. Professor Au adds that dementia isn’t inevitable. She believes that watching for signs such as sudden weight loss could help a patient detect the disease early and prevent its onset or progression.
Dementia is a serious disease that affects older adults. Unfortunately, experts believe its incidence will likely triple to 150 million by 2050. Since there is no cure for dementia, doctors try to prevent it by advising patients to make lifestyle changes or teaching them the warning signs.
Weight loss or gain is one risk factor for dementia. Studies have found a link between fat accumulation in middle age and dementia. Unfortunately, experts are unaware of how obesity or weight gain could lead to the disease.
How researchers conducted the study
Professor Au and her team evaluated participants from Massachusetts for this study. First, they measured their BMI every two to four years for about forty years. The team then compared the rates of dementia to those who experienced weight gain loss or had more stable weight.
The study author explains that examining the patterns of weight loss or gain is vital to signalling dementia. Unfortunately, other studies did not evaluate them. Researchers found that patients with a declining BMI were more likely to experience dementia. They also found some patients with an increased BMI and then a declining BMI who were also likely to develop dementia. All the patients were middle-aged, suggesting that these patterns were likely to lead to dementia if they occurred in this age group.