Weight loss link to dementia risk

Rapid weight loss in old age is associated with increased dementia risk and could be used as a preclinical indicator for the condition, say researchers from the University of Pittsburgh.

The BMIs of 1,836 men and women with an average age of 71.8 years were monitored over a period of seven to nine years.

A faster decline in BMI was associated with a doubling in dementia risk. This effect was greater for those who were overweight or obese at baseline compared with those who were normal or underweight.

The researchers suggested that weight loss seen in dementia may be the result of pathophysiological changes. In addition, it could be a result of behavioural changes, they said.

'Weight loss may also result from predementia apathy, reduced olfactory function, difficulty in eating or inadequate nutrition due to cognitive impairment,' they added.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

  • Neurology 2009; 72: 1,741-6

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