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Obesity Linked to Faster Cognitive Decline

Aug 21, 2012 08:09 AM EDT

Obesity most often brings with it a bundle of problems mostly heart related chronic diseases. But the new study carried out in the August 21 issue of Neurology in the medical journal American Academy of Neurology claims that obesity not only triggers heart related problems but it is also has a strong association with faster decline in cognitive skills.

Obesity Linked to Faster Cognitive Decline
(Photo : colros/ Flickr)

People with high blood pressure and other risk factors that called metabolic abnormalities that exist due to obesity experience a shift in their cognitive skills. Metabolic abnormality was defined as having two or more of the following risk factors: high blood pressure or taking medication for it; low HDL or "good" cholesterol; high blood sugar or taking diabetes medication; and high triglycerides.

The study was conducted on nearly 6401 people with an average age 50.

The researchers collected information on the body mass index (BMI) and other existing the risk factors. The participants were asked to take rest on memory and other cognitive skills three times over the next 10 years.

The researchers noticed that 31 percent of the participants had two or more metabolic abnormalities where nine percent were obese and 38 percent were overweight. Out of the total 582 obese people 60 percent were noticed with metabolic abnormality. Rapid decline was noticed among metabolically normal obese individuals.

They also noticed over the period of 10 years people who were both obese and metabolically abnormal experienced a 22.5 percent faster decline on their cognitive test scores.

"More research is needed to look at the effects of genetic factors and also to take into account how long people have been obese and how long they have had these metabolic risk factors and also to look at cognitive test scores spanning adulthood to give us a better understanding of the link between obesity and cognitive function, such as thinking, reasoning and memory," said study author Archana Singh-Manoux, PhD, of INSERM, the French research institute in Paris and University College London in England. Singh-Manoux said the study also provides evidence against the concept of "metabolically healthy obesity" that has suggested that obese people without metabolic risk factors do not show negative cardiac and cognitive results compared to obese people with metabolic risk factors.

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