Obesity, Cognitive Ageing, and Dementia: The Usefulness of Longitudinal Studies to Understand the Obesity Paradox
Obesity is a global health problem that has reached epidemic proportions (World Health Organization 2000). It is estimated that worldwide approximately one billion adults are overweight and an additional 475 million are obese. In Europe, approximately 60 % of the adult population is either overweight or obese. During the last decade, an increasing focus has been put on the potential influence of obesity on cognitive functions and dementia. While midlife obesity is associated with lower cognitive functions in late life and a greater risk of dementia, the association between late life obesity, cognitive ageing, and dementia is less clear. In late life, being overweight and/or obese is often associated with better cognitive functions and decreased risk of dementia. The main focus of this chapter is to try to unravel this shift in association, often referred to as the obesity paradox, by evaluating results from studies with a longitudinal design. Issues such as interference of preclinical dementia, weight changes, age at assessments, and the follow-up time will be discussed. These issues seem to be essential to understand the obesity paradox.
KeywordsBody Mass Index Waist Circumference High Body Mass Index Verbal Ability Cognitive Ageing
This work was supported by the Future Leaders of Ageing Research in Europe (FLARE) postdoctoral grant, coordinated by the European Research Area in Ageing (ERA-AGE) and funded by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS, 2010-1852). I also want to thank Dr. Milan Chang and the editor of this book Dr. Anja Leist for helpful comments and suggestions for improvements of this chapter.
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