MedWire News: High levels of adiposity increase rates of cognitive decline in the "young elderly" aged between 60 and 70 years, report Korean researchers.
Specifically, individuals in their study in the top tertile of visceral adiposity area were two-and-a-half times more likely to demonstrate poor cognitive performance than their counterparts in the bottom tertile.
Being obese also significantly increased the risk for poor cognitive performance in this 10-year age group, say Doo Heum Park from Konkuk University Medical Center in Hwayang-dong, Seoul, and colleagues.
"Our findings have important public health implications," writes the team in Age and Ageing. "The prevention of obesity, particularly central obesity, might be important for the prevention of cognitive decline or dementia."
Previous research has indicated a link between high body mass index (BMI) and risk for dementia in middle age. Here, the authors investigated whether region of adiposity, as measured by abdominal computed tomography, would link with cognitive performance in 250 individuals aged 60 years or over.
All participants completed the Mini-Mental State Examination for the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's disease, on which a score at or below one standard deviation of the age-, gender-, and education-matched Korean population indicated poor cognitive performance.
After adjustment for factors including hypertension, smoking status, and cholesterol levels, individuals aged up to 70 years who had a BMI of at least 25 kg/m2 (obese) were a significant 2.61 times more likely to have poor cognitive performance than their healthy weight counterparts.
Similarly, participants of the same age with area of visceral adiposity measuring in the top tertile (>149.0 cm2 in men, >123.7 cm2 in women) were a significant 2.58 times more likely than their counterparts with measurements in the bottom tertile (<110.0 cm2 in men, <91.0 cm2 in women) to display poor cognitive performance.
No such association was seen for measures of subcutaneous adipose tissue, however.
Furthermore, in participants aged 70 years and older, Park et al observed no association between poor cognitive performance and BMI, visceral or subcutaneous adipose tissue, indicating that the effects are attenuated by age.
"Aging is characterized by lean body mass loss and adipose tissue increase without weight gain," explain the researchers.
"Our findings need to be confirmed by prospective large population study," they conclude.
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