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Losing muffin tops in middle age linked to increased Alzheimer’s risk

Patterns of weight gain or loss may predict an individual's risk.

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Women body fat with hand holding excessive belly fat. Consequences of coronavirus people isolation during quarantine.
A loff of BMI such as muffin tops belly fat was associated with a higher risk of developing dementia in the study. (MorphoBio via Shutterstock)

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Losing pot bellies or muffin tops in middle age could increase the risk of Alzheimer's, according to new research.

Older people who pile on the pounds - and then burn them off - are more prone to the memory-robbing disease, scientists said.

Study corresponding author Professor Rhoda Au, of the University of Boston, said: "If after a steady increase in weight that is common as one gets older, there is an unexpected shift to losing weight post midlife, it might be good to consult with one’s healthcare provider and pinpoint why."

The findings add to evidence that the seeds for dementia are sown across many years - likely even across the entire lifespan.

Au aid: "Dementia is not necessarily inevitable and monitoring risk indicators such as something as easy to notice as weight patterns, might offer opportunities for early intervention that can change the trajectory of disease onset and progression."

The number of cases worldwide will triple to more than 150 million by 2050. With no cure in sight, there is an increasing focus on protective lifestyles.

Patterns of weight gain or loss may predict an individual's risk. Obesity, measured by BMI (body mass index), continues to be a global epidemic.

fat girl on diet, Overweight fat woman with a little portion of food trying to lose weight. Extreme diet,woman's hand holding excessive belly fat, the concept of weight loss
(Maples Images via Shutterstock)

Studies have suggested a link between middle age spread and dementia - although the reasons remain unclear.

The U.S. and Chinese teams analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study, a group of participants from the Massachusetts town followed for four decades.

Their weight was measured about every two to four years. Prof Au and colleagues compared dementia rates among those whose weight went up, down or remained stable.

Prof Au said: "These findings are important because previous studies that looked at weight trajectories didn’t consider how patterns of weight gain/stability/loss might help signal that dementia is potentially imminent."

The researchers found the overall trend of declining BMI was associated with a higher risk of developing dementia.

However, after further exploration, they identified a subgroup with a pattern of initial increasing BMI followed by declining BMI.

Both occurred within middle age - which appeared to be central to the declining BMI-dementia association.
The results appear online in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

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