Fluctuating BMI patterns predict dementia risk

Researchers from Boston University have discovered different patterns of body mass index (BMI) changes could indicate a person’s risk of dementia.

Rhoda Au, Professor of Anatomy and Co-author of the study, said: ‘These findings are important because previous studied that looked at weight trajectories didn’t consider how patterns of weight gain/stability/loss might help signal that dementia is potentially imminent.’

human brain toy

With the results published last week, the study included participants who were followed for 39 years, with their weight being measured every 2-4 years. Researchers compared different weight patterns among people who were not showing signs of dementia.

Experts discovered the trend of a declining BMI was associated with a higher risk of developing dementia. However, after further analysis, researchers found the group whose BMI declined after showing signs of increasing for a significant amount of time, were more at risk.

As a result, Professor Au has warned people to watch out for this particular pattern of a BMI change, stating that for individuals, family members and primary care physicians, it is relatively easy to monitor weight. 

The professor said: ‘If a steady increase in weight that is common as one gets older, there is an unexpected shift to losing weight that is common as one gets older, there is an unexpected shift to losing weight midlife, it might be good to consult with one’s healthcare provider and pinpoint why.

‘There are some potential treatments emerging where early detection might be critical in the effectiveness of any of these treatments as they are approved and become available.’

According to researchers, dementia is a growing public health concern, currently affecting 50 million people and is expected to rise to more than 150 million cases worldwide by 2050. 

The full results of this study can be found in the online journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer


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