Alzheimer’s disease is the most commonly diagnosed form of dementia around the world. It is a neurodegenerative condition that tends to worsen over time in many cases. At the moment, no specific treatment exists for the disease and only a better lifestyle can help manage it to avoid further complications.
At the same time, research has shown that the disease can be delayed and even prevented if not treated by maintaining health. A number of factors have been identified and associated with the onset of the condition including poor health of the brain.
Now, recent research has shown another important contributor to brain damage and the development of Alzheimer’s disease in people – obesity.
Obesity is among the biggest health concerns today. There are multiple reasons for the spread of obesity in people around the globe including the change in everyday life, lack of physical activity, poor diets, and many others.
According to studies, obesity is also linked to some of the top causes of deaths worldwide including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Since it is difficult to treat, health experts urge preventing the condition in the first place.
To do so, simply having a balanced daily intake along with meeting the daily recommendation for physical activity is enough in the majority of the cases. This will prevent obesity as well as many other associated diseases.
The new study, whose findings appear in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports shows treating obesity at an early-age may even delay or possibly keep Alzheimer’s disease from developing.
For examining the link between obesity and cognitive health, the researchers from the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield in the UK looked at brain imaging tests of the participants.
These participants were divided into three groups. The first group included people with healthy cognition while the second consisted of those with mild cognitive impairments. The participants in the third group had mild impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
In all three groups, the researchers looked out for possible linkages between the impairments and obesity by analyzing and comparing cognitive health with the Body Mass Index and waist circumference of the participants.
During the onset of early Alzheimer’s disease, structural changes in the brain usually appear along with a decrease in blood flow, white matter integrity, and gray matter volume. However, in the third group, the researchers found that participants with healthy body weights did not have some of these changes.
Instead, structural changes were seen in the brain scans of the participants who were obese but had good cognitive health. The researchers specifically found the BMI had a significant difference in maintaining blood flow and gray matter in the brain.
These findings show that having good physical health and body weight can indeed impact brain health. This, in turn, can delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease even in people with a mild form of the condition.
On the other hand, obesity and high BMI can cause structural changes in the brain even in people with healthy cognition.
While obesity is not a direct cause of Alzheimer’s disease, it can make a big difference. Therefore, people with a high risk of the disease should maintain a healthy lifestyle which will keep both Alzheimer’s and obesity away.