Study Shows Obesity Reduce Chances of Dementia

Study Shows Obesity Reduce Chances of Dementia


Western countries have increased cases of obesity in the last decade, but the rate of dementia has surprisingly reduced. Research shows obesity is not a risk factor for dementia, it might actually reduce its chances. Both obesity and dementia are ambiguous terms that can be confusing for people. According to WHO, adults with a BMI (mass/ height square) equal to or more than 30 are heavier people. Obesity is caused by the over-deposition of fat in the body. Dementia is a condition that affects our mental functioning, especially memory and the way we think. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common of its forms.

Why was obesity linked to dementia?

Obesity is a condition that has adverse effects on our day-to-day life. It is one of the most significant causes of diabetes along with blocking the blood flow to the brain. So, it can be said that it has a secondary effect on our brains. But numbers are showing opposite results. Obesity is seen increasing in Western countries alarmingly, still, dementia cases have been quite low.

Obesity paradox:

This gives us a contradiction that obesity might protect us from memory loss in dementia. What we were perceiving as a risk factor, can actually be a savior. Evidence through Mendelian randomization shows that when the study is conducted based precisely on genes causing obesity, nine out of ten times there is no link between obesity and dementia.

Confusion of reverse causation:

Often in research on obesity and dementia, subjects are old in age and follow-up time can be short. So, it can go unnoticed that dementia is the base that has started growing out of it, and people lose weight because of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease.

The confounding bias:

Here a new factor comes into the picture, childhood intelligence. Other studies have suggested that people with lower childhood intelligence are more likely to be higher-weight people when they grow up. So, the people that are observed in obesity research have a high probability of inhibiting a bit lower cognitive potential than the others. Since their cognitive capabilities have a slight disadvantage, dementia can be a risk. Obesity does not play a major role, but came up as an effect of childhood intelligence as the risk factor of dementia in old age.

How does obesity affect us psychologically?

No. of people who suffer from obesity is quite prevalent with 8 crore higher-weight Indians. Not only adults, but the population of children have seen alarmingly higher cases of it. While many have underlying causes just as simple as lifestyle, few might have untreatable concerns. Physical effects have been widely known, but let’s delve into their psychological implications.


People with higher-weight outer appearance can deal with issues of low self-image. Bullying and fat shaming in the environment can significantly affect how a person has a perception of himself or herself. Stereotypes like people dealing with obesity tend to be lazy or not fitting into the ideal body type directly worsens how a person builds his/her level of self-confidence.

Eating disorders:

These disorders are when a person eats too much or too low it affects his health severely. There are many cases wherein the hope of losing weight, especially teenagers, tend to do dieting that is unplanned and can lead to lifelong fatal results. Intervention, especially therapeutic can be effective.

Dealing with it

Obesity can be treated with a better lifestyle, like a healthy diet and routine workout. But it is quite important to understand that obesity can itself be a result of some underlying disorders or because of unchangeable root causes like genes. So instead of blaming a higher-weight person, discussing and enacting a plan for a better lifestyle as well as checking up on their mental health can be beneficial.

  • Singh-Manoux A, Dugravot A, Shipley M, Brunner EJ, Elbaz A, Sabia S, Kivimaki M. Obesity trajectories and risk of dementia: 28 years of follow-up in the Whitehall II Study. Alzheimers Dement. 2018 Feb;14(2):178-186. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2017.06.2637. Epub 2017 Sep 21. PMID: 28943197; PMCID: PMC5805839.

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