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  • Obesity increases risk of dementia 2.5 fold in men, lowest risk with BMI of 20 to 22.5

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Wednesday, February 16, 2005 2:05 pm Email this article
    The risk of dementia increases for men when body mass index (BMI) exceeds 22.5 according to a new study from Sweden. Lowest risk of dementia with BMI 20-22.5

    The risk of dementia is lowest in men with a BMI of 20 to 22.49.

    Risk greater in men with BMI higher or lower than this

    The risk associated with BMIs greater or lower than this were as follows:

    After adjusting for risk factors

    These risk were calculated after adjusting for smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and social class.


    “Previous studies have shown that risk factors commonly associated with coronary disease, stroke, and other vascular disorders predict dementia,” the authors noted.

    “Overweight and obesity could be major preventable factors in the development of dementia,” the authors concluded.


    I can’t but wonder if elevated risk of demetia associated with increasing weight is related to inflammation.

    Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, have been found to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s (in ‘t Veld, 2001), whereas obesity has been called an chronic inflammatory state.

    The paper that stated that obesity was an inflammatory state, also said that, “The success of weight loss surgery in treating the complications associated with obesity is most probably related to the reduction of inflammatory mediators.?

    However, why would thin patients, those with a BMI less than 20, be at greater risk?

    Perhaps these patients already have Alzheimer’s, but it has not yet been recognized.

    A previous paper found that people with a BMI less than 21 were 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, however, when they excluded patients who developed Alzheimer’s shortly after the study—indicating that they already had Alzheimer’s—they found no association of a low BMI to Alzheimers and concluded, “A low BMI does not in itself seem to be a risk factor for dementia.” (Nourhashemi, 2003)

    Another study found that Alzheimer’s patients lost weight, and on average weighed 21 percent less than patients without dementia, and 14 percent less than patients with dementia caused by multiple strokes, however, the weight loss in the Alzheimer’s patients was “not accounted for by any obvious deficit in food intake, or by malabsorption,” the authors concluded. (Singh, 1988) “The reason for weight loss in Alzheimer’s remains uncertain.”

    So perhaps being underweight does not increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, as Nourhashemi (2003) suggested, but rather patients with Alzheimer’s tend to be underweight.


    Rosengren A, Skoog I, Gustafson D, Wilhelmsen L. Body mass index, other cardiovascular risk factors, and hospitalization for dementia. Arch Intern Med. 2005 Feb 14, 165(3):321-26.


    A. Rosengren
    Department of Medicine
    Sahlgrenska University Hospital
    Ostra, Goteborg, Sweden


    In T’ Veld BA, Ruitenberg A, Hofman A, Launer L, Van Duijn CM, Stijnen T, Breteler M, Stricker B. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and the risk of alzheimer’s disease. N Engl J Med. 2001 Nov 22, 345(21):1515-21.


    Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
    Eramus Medical Center
    Rotterdam, The Netherlands

    Nourhashemi F, Deschamps V, Larrieu S, Letenneur L, Dartigues J, Barberger-Gateau P. Body mass index and incidence of dementia: the paquid study. Neurology. 2003 Jan 14, 60(1):117-19.


    F. Nourhashemi
    Service de Medecine Interne et de Gerontologie Clinique
    CHU Purpan-Casselardit
    Toulouse, France
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Singh S, Mulley G, Losowsky M. Why are alzheimer patients thin? Age Ageing. 1988 Jan, 17(1):21-28.


    S. Singh
    Department of Medicine
    St James’s Hospital
    Leeds, UK

    Articles on the same subject can be found here:


    On Mar 16, 2005 at 7:11 am Randy Smith, MD wrote:

    . . . . .

    The inflammation that comes with obesity appears to be the mediator of many degenerative illness associated with being over weight including dementia.

    Fat cells, particularly those in the viseceral fat, are metabolically active and produce pro-inflammatory cytokines increasing overall inflammation in the body.

    In addition to weight loss, the use of the omega 3 EPA in large doses in helpful in reducing inflammation through inhibition of the arachidonic acid pathway.


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