The study suggests that overweight and obese people are 30% less likely to suffer from dementia later in life as opposed to those who have a normal weight.
On the other hand, underweight people were found to be 34% more prone to develop dementia, compared to people whose weight is normal.
Dr. Nawab Qizilbash, a researcher at OXON Epidemiology Ltd. in Madrid, Spain, explained that the study was surprising because the scientists did not know that overweight and obese people would normally be protected against this disease.
However, the experts explained that the study only showed an association between the reduced risk of dementia and obesity, not a relationship of cause and effect between the two.
Dr. Nawab Qizilbash said that the findings of the new study do not imply that people should try to gain extra weight in order to prevent the risk of developing dementia, especially since the same study showed that people who are overweight have an increased risk of dying prematurely.
Qizilbash explained that even if being overweight would protect people from getting dementia, they would not live long enough to benefit from this.
According to the researchers, further studies are needed because there isn’t a biological explanation why there is this association between obesity and a lower risk of dementia.
However, the good news is that the further studies on this matter might help the scientists find new treatments that would prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Additional studies could help researchers find protective factors against dementia and could provide new insight into the mechanisms of this disease, which will lead to new ways of treating it.
The researchers involved in the new study believe that in the future scientists will need to reevaluate the ways to identify who is more at risk of developing dementia.
However, Deborah Gustafson, professor of neurology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in NYC, questioned the methods of the study.
She wonders whether weight is really a factor that could reflect the risk of dementia that some could develop in 15 years.
Dr. Gustafson added that more research is needed in order to clarify the link between weight and the risk of dementia.
The findings of the new study were detailed in the journal the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on April 10.
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