Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Science

Being Overweight Reduces Dementia Risk 97

jones_supa writes Being overweight cuts the risk of dementia, according to the largest and most precise investigation into the relationship (abstract). The researchers were surprised by the findings, which run contrary to current health advice. The team at Oxon Epidemiology and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analyzed medical records from 2 million people aged 55 on average, for up to two decades. Their most conservative analysis showed underweight people had a 39% greater risk of dementia compared with being a normal healthy weight. But those who were overweight had an 18% reduction in dementia, and the figure was 24% reduction for the obese. Any explanation for the protective effect is distinctly lacking. There are some ideas that vitamin D and E deficiencies contribute to dementia and they may be less common in those eating more. Be it any way, let's still not forget that heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some cancers and other diseases are all linked to a bigger waistline. Maybe being slightly overweight is the optimum to strike, if the recent study is to be followed.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Being Overweight Reduces Dementia Risk

Comments Filter:
  • Easy explanation: They die before they develop dementia...
    • This explains why we never see fat serial killers in movies.
    • Right accept that people who are overweight or mildly obese actually live longer:

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/healt... [npr.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Right accept that people who are overweight or mildly obese actually live longer:

        http://www.npr.org/blogs/healt... [npr.org]

        I like how the article you linked to already has a refutation of this claim within it.

        One of the experts who takes issue with Flegal's conclusions is epidemiologist Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. He has read her new paper and says he's not buying it.

        "This study is really a pile of rubbish, and no one should waste their time reading it," he says.

        Willett says it's not helpful to look simply at how body mass indexes, or BMIs, influence the risk of premature death, as this paper did, without knowing something about people's health or fitness. Some people are thin because they're ill, so of course they're at higher risk of dying. The study doesn't tease this apart.

        Also, he says the analysis doesn't address the bigger, more important issues of quality of life. If an overweight person does live longer — is he or she living with chronic diseases?

        "We have a huge amount of other literature showing that people who gain weight or are overweight have increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many cancers and many other conditions," Willett says.

        • Anyway, what's the point of living longer because you are skinny and 'healthy' but unaware of your last 20 years because you got dementia?
        • BTW, I should say that the medical profession in my country and province, yep Quebec, Canada, is asking the government to legalize euthanasia for patients with dementia without any other legal authorization -since these patients cannot agree or not with their own life termination- in order to reduce healthcare costs and grab an hand on what these will leave behind depending if they have family or not. So, at the end, it will be totally pointless to make any efforts to live longer. They don't want you as soo
    • Re:Easy explanation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @08:10AM (#49452601)

      Easy explanation: They die before they develop dementia...

      Another easy explanation is that the causation goes the other way: People with dementia are less likely to gain weight. There could be many reasons they eat less: less cravings, less ability to prepare food, less social interaction at meals, or just forgetting to eat. They are also more likely to smoke, which reduces appetite.

      • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @08:35AM (#49452655)

        Another easy explanation is that the causation goes the other way: People with dementia are less likely to gain weight.

        Well, that would work if they studied people with dementia to determine their weight, instead of studying people without dementia, then waiting nine years to see if they developed dementia...

        • Re:Easy explanation (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @09:52AM (#49452975)

          Well, that would work if they studied people with dementia to determine their weight, instead of studying people without dementia, then waiting nine years to see if they developed dementia...

          Dementia doesn't work that way. It is not like the flu, where you are just fine until you "catch" it. Dementia creeps up on you. So even nine years earlier, there were almost certainly already behavior differences that would be amplified as the disease progressed. School essays written decades earlier, by people that latter suffered from dementia, are less creative and more likely to be just a list of statements, with less emotion and self-reflection. So it is likely that eating habits could also be affected years before the symptoms become obvious.

      • Re:Easy explanation (Score:5, Informative)

        by pepty ( 1976012 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @08:43AM (#49452693)

        Our cohort of 1958191 people from UK general practices had a median age at baseline of 55 years (IQR 45–66) and a median follow-up of 91 years (IQR 63–126). Dementia occurred in 45507 people, at a rate of 24 cases per 1000 person-years. Compared with people of a healthy weight, underweight people (BMI 40 kg/m2) having a 29% lower (95% CI 22–36) dementia risk than people of a healthy weight. These patterns persisted throughout two decades of follow-up, after adjustment for potential confounders and allowance for the J-shape association of BMI with mortality.

      • Another easy explanation is that the causation goes the other way: People with dementia are less likely to gain weight. There could be many reasons they eat less: less cravings, less ability to prepare food, less social interaction at meals, or just forgetting to eat. They are also more likely to smoke, which reduces appetite.

        Problem with that explanation is that most obese people are obese for a log time, ans being slender doesn't mean you are already demented.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Too much blind guessing. Here's the correct answer.

        The error everyone makes in assuming that because it's bad for heart disease, it's bad for everything.

        Obesity is a problem primarily because of cardiovascular reasons, like heart attack and stroke. Otherwise it's loaded with nutrition and calories. This probably explains why "overweight" (though not obese) are the longest-lived segment of society. Thinner people are running more on empty, leading to under-performing immune systems and healing.

        That's where I

        • Too much blind guessing. Here's the correct answer.

          The error everyone makes in assuming that because it's bad for heart disease, it's bad for everything.

          Obesity is a problem primarily because of cardiovascular reasons, like heart attack and stroke. Otherwise it's loaded with nutrition and calories. This probably explains why "overweight" (though not obese) are the longest-lived segment of society. Thinner people are running more on empty, leading to under-performing immune systems and healing.

          That's where I'd start to look anyway.

          And on top of all this, high fat content is known to help neurons function in cases with epilepsy, so again it's not a surprise here.

          There was also a study of elderly done a while back, I think that it was on 60 minutes, that found that elderly people who were a bit overweight tended to live longer. One of the possible reasons was that when they got sick, injured, etc. they had body reserves that would help them heal and get better.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Or in other words..... CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION.

        As has been pointed out many, many times in other discussions.

      •   A competent epidemiologist would control for the "They die before they develop dementia" effect.

          Given this is a peer reviewed study I think it hugely likely they controlled for that.

      • Another easy explanation is that the causation goes the other way: People with dementia are less likely to gain weight. There could be many reasons they eat less: less cravings, less ability to prepare food, less social interaction at meals, or just forgetting to eat. They are also more likely to smoke, which reduces appetite.

        One such hypothesis that reverses the causation is that obesity and dementia could be different responses to the same or similar underlying disturbance.

        Obesity and dementia (both vas

      • ... which is already refuted in the abstract, since they measured BMI at the beginning of the study not the end.

    • Easy explanation: They die before they develop dementia...

      I've seen my relatives die from dementia, heart attacks and cancer.

      Believe me, to die before you get dementia is preferable. I know one "happy" dementia patient. The others were either angry or criers. Living ten years longer isn't worth it if you spend it without a functioning brain.

      Go visit a nursing home if you want to see the results of our extended lifespan.

      Don't forget your maintenance meds now!

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        You have no idea how relieved I am that the oldest generations in my family and in my wife's family that we have personally known have lived functionally on their own into their eighties until their deaths at home in the case of my side, and are still alive at home in the case of my wife's side. None of them fell into complete dementia. That isn't to say that there hasn't been a small degree of low-grade dementia, but nothing like those that have been effectively committed and are under 24/7 managed care
      • Go visit a nursing home if you want to see the results of our extended lifespan.

        Selection bias. The people in the nursing home are not a random sample, but mostly the people worst off.

        • Go visit a nursing home if you want to see the results of our extended lifespan.

          Selection bias. The people in the nursing home are not a random sample, but mostly the people worst off.

          Oh great whooshy whooshes for ridiculous levels of whooshieness. If I need to spell it out to you, there are living situations that are much worse than death.

          And of course, one of the best places to see people suffering from dementia is in your "selection bias" place, a nursing home. Because that's where they tend to end up. And if we lessen the other causes of death, then all that does is increase the likelyhood of dementia. Or do you figure that we are going to live forever now?

          • by jafac ( 1449 )

            Well, from my admittedly "selection-biased" perspective, I *do* know some elderly people. Yes, the ones with dementia are quite miserable. The ones who get into a really severe state, generally don't "last" more than a year. (thankfully). I also know a couple of elderly people (in their 90's) (and, I've had some relatives, as well, up in their late-90's) who are totally mentally sharp. They have hobbies, activities, and some health problems, but nothing horrible. I don't even know how people like this die.

            • death.

              But my first choice is "none of the above, and have a happy, full-life into my 90's". Whether I have any friends or family or not.

              Dementia would be last on my list of "ways to go peacefully". Maybe 2nd to last, because ALS fucking sucks too. (just ask Stephen Hawking).

              My first choice is to live to 200 as a 30 year old. But of course, that's not going to happen.

              Second choice is to pass on with my dignity intact.

  • mode of death (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2015 @07:42AM (#49452539)

    diabetes, heart failure, stroke & cancer are all better deaths than alzheimer's(or any of the neurodegenerative illnesses)

    • Yep, way too much focus is put on living a long time, and no where near enough on actually having some quality of life. Dying with dementia (or living with it) is honestly my worst fear.

      • Re: mode of death (Score:1, Interesting)

        by erebus2161 ( 3441365 )
        I've got to disagree with you there chief. Dementia and Alzheimer's might seem terrible from the outside, but I bet it isn't that bad on the inside. Cancer on the other hand is pretty terrible. Diabetes isn't a cake walk either. And all four of those conditions can kill you decades before a neurodegenerative disease is likely to strike. I'd much rather die at 90 from Alzheimer's than at 40 from a heart attack. But don't get me wrong, I'm all for spending money on neurodegenerative diseases. I'd just like to
        • Re: mode of death (Score:5, Informative)

          by pepty ( 1976012 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @08:51AM (#49452723)

          but I bet it isn't that bad on the inside.

          Except that for many people they are very aware of what's happening and what they are losing. They are intensely angry and frustrated when they lose the ability to verbalize all (or part) of what they are thinking and then it gets worse when they can no longer hold onto the complete thought. Plus as they lose executive function it is harder to control that anger and frustration. Sure, some folks have a stroke and seem to enter a second childhood, but for many it's a living hell of isolation from everyone you know - including yourself.

        • Re: mode of death (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @09:40AM (#49452923)

          I've got to disagree with you there chief. Dementia and Alzheimer's might seem terrible from the outside, but I bet it isn't that bad on the inside.

          You need to visit a nursing home some time. Where my mother in law was housed had lots of dementia patients. A lot of them cried all the time, some were angry - in at least one case, the fellow was violent, and they eventually had to send him to a more restrictive facility. Anyhow my mother in law was a crier, I can't imagine anyone spending time around her and thinking dementia isn't that bad. I knew one "happy" dementia patient.

          Plus, it isn't just wandering around being a little confused. As your brain shuts down your cognitive ability, it is also bitching up your internal organs, everything gets messed up, and you die slowly, usually over around ten years.

          Cancer on the other hand is pretty terrible. Diabetes isn't a cake walk either. And all four of those conditions can kill you decades before a neurodegenerative disease is likely to strike.

          My father died of cancer. He had the benefit of pain killers, and it was fairly quick. And he had his mind. We had intelligent conversations up to the evening he died.

          I'd much rather die at 90 from Alzheimer's than at 40 from a heart attack.

          Perhaps if you see a few family members take ten years or so to die, spending every waking moment crying, or some times having to be restrained because they are violent toward other patients, or all calm on haldol because otherwise they spend their days screaming at the bats flying around in the room, you might willingly trade ten years of life for a happier ending.

          The worst thing is that we even try to extend their lives as their internal organs are going haywire, they are on drugs to keep themselves and other patients safe.

          I long ago decided that if there is a hell, it resembles nothing as much as a dementia ward.

          • by cleara ( 4074899 )
            This friend speaks my words. My mother (who did not have dementia) was in hospice in a nursing home. There was a woman who had dementia down the hall about 10 rooms away from my mother's room. We heard her angry outbursts throughout the entire L shaped floor.
        • Insightful? Really mods? As someone whose father in law has it let me clue you in on something pal, they can literally feel their minds going and can't put their fingers on WHAT is going wrong, just that something IS going wrong. Result? Either they cry as another guy said or even more likely they get ANGRY and stay that way for the rest of their days.

          Picture a wounded animal, snapping at those around it because it is in pain and cannot help itself...THAT sounds like fun to you? I know you are probably ba

          • by TWX ( 665546 )
            I think that you meant to say Terry Pratchett instead of Douglas Adams. That doesn't really impact your point though, and given that Pratchett was a relatively wealthy man who enjoyed help continuing his work he probably had a better quality of life in part because those around him already understood what he wanted or needed to communicate through that work, and as you said, he had a different form of Alzheimer's as well.
          • Personally I'd rather eat a damned bullet than end up like that, at least it would be over quickly.

            The problem with that strategy is that it is so damned hard to judge the timing. Dementia usually develops with a huge denial component. And it is so easy these days to be in denial about mental deterioration: it isn't your mind, it is the drugs you have to take for the depression that your doctor tells you is a common side affect of the blood pressure medication you need if you are going to live to old age, and of course there is also that nagging worry about how your son is going to get out of debt after

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          "... and *OTHER* neurodegenerative ..." (emphasis mine)

          Have you ever seen someone die from ALS? It's sort of a "reverse Alzheimer's". The body shuts down, while the victim remains mentally aware, trapped inside her own body, knowing what is happening to her.

          Remember, Alzheimer's and Dementia are not the only neurodegenerative disease.

    • I dunno. With Alzheimer's, you lose your ability to create short term memories, but your long term memories remain intact. One sufferer quipped, "I get to meet someone new every day!" So the question is, do dementia sufferers even realize, that they have dementia . . . ?

      A relative recently died of terminal lung cancer. She suffered in pain for a year, and knew that there was no hope. Now THAT really sucked. I'm wondering if I was bat-shit crazy, if I would even have the sense to know that I was defi

      • I dunno. With Alzheimer's, you lose your ability to create short term memories, but your long term memories remain intact. One sufferer quipped, "I get to meet someone new every day!" So the question is, do dementia sufferers even realize, that they have dementia . . . ?

        Go visit a nursing care facility where they store dementia patients. I think you have a made-for-TV version of dementia in mind. For every "happy" dementia patient, there are many many more who suffer horribly. Terribly unhappy or violent, and hallucinating.This isn't a little switch in the brain, it's the brain slowly shutting down. The internal organs and other parts are deteriorating along with meeting new people every day.

        A relative recently died of terminal lung cancer. She suffered in pain for a year

  • I guess we know where the phrase "anchored in reality" comes from.

  • Being overweight in MIDDLE AGE is good for preventing dementia.

    No correlation has been proved with being overweight your entire life. Probably because the study examined people who were 55 at the start of the study.

    So, put on a few pounds at the time of life when putting on a few pounds is pretty much natural, then ditch those extra pounds as you get past middle age and into old age.

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    Yeah because you die of a coronary from obesity prior to dementia forming.

    This is literally the stupidest "health" article I have seen yet.

  • I'm protecting myself with soft, blubbery armor!
  • Why the hell can't it be related to higher free IGF-1 levels?

    There are studies indicating that obese people have higher free IGF-1 levels.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... [nih.gov]

    There are also studies saying that high levels of IGF-1 are linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and subclinical brain atrophy:
    http://www.neurologyreviews.co... [neurologyreviews.com]
  • This study is interesting, but as it notes, most certainly needs further investigation. BMI is not the greatest metric to determine health, and I'm not surprised that those who are carrying some weight will be better over on a number of health markers.
  • Pass the donuts!!

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @10:39AM (#49453167)

    ... women who put on some extra weight tend to live longer than the men who point it out.

  • BMI is NOT a good way to judge over and underweight. Tim S.
  •   I wonder if sleep apnea is considered dementia in this context?

      Sleep apnea is highly correlated with obesity at that age and it can give the sufferer a disturbingly
      similar experience to senile dementia when severe and untreated.

  • No shit, they don't live long enough to GET dementia. You don't exactly see a lot of fat people at the retirement home - there's a reason for that.
  • Why is medical reporting so rife with them? They have to pass some science courses before becoming doctors, don't they? Why are so many medical studies reported as "we found a correlation so there must be a causation." Not only does correlation is not causation. Correlation do not imply causation.
  • I.e. you die of diabetes, heart attack or a stroke before you could get demented.

  • One thing that is well known is that shit like toxic heavy metals, that can circulate indefinitely in the body, tend to be safely captured by body fat and thereby stop being harmful for the duration of entrapment.

    Conversely, one can surmise, that such toxins will continue their destructive process if there is little fat to trap them in.

  • This is about being "overweight" by body mass index(yes I looked), as opposed to body fat percentage. As such I'm going to ignore the whole study.You can easily have a higher than average BMI and still be very healthy.
  • Fat, dumb and happy [slashdot.org].

  • Maybe the fatter you are, the more diluted (in your body) the Alzheimer's-causing agents become, and the fewer that actually make it to your brain.

A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. -- S. C. Johnson

Working...