Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, studied information from the Swedish Twin Registry on 8,534 twins age 65 or older. Of those, 350 were diagnosed with dementia and 114 had possible dementia.
Information on participant’s height and weight had been taken 30 years earlier. Participants were classified as either underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese according to their body mass index (BMI). Nearly 30% (2,541) of the twins, were either overweight or obese during middle age. Researchers learned that this group had an 80% higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia in later life compared to people with normal BMI.
The results remained the same after considering other factors, such as education, diabetes and vascular disease. A total of 26% of those with no dementia had been overweight in midlife, compared to 36% of those with questionable dementia and 39% of those with diagnosed dementia.
Three percent of those with no dementia had been obese in midlife, compared to 5% of those with questionable dementia and 7% of those with diagnosed dementia.
In twin pairs where one twin had dementia and one twin did not, there was no significant relationship between weight and dementia in midlife suggesting that genetic and early life environmental factors may contribute to the link.
“Currently, 1.6 billion adults are overweight or obese worldwide and over 50% of adults in the United States and Europe fit into this category,” said study author Weili Xu, MD, PhD. “Our results contribute to the growing evidence that controlling body weight or losing weight in middle age could reduce your risk of dementia.”
For us – the diet really does start today, before we’re no longer able to remember our resolution.