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Obesity May Exacerbate the Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease
February 1, 2021

New research published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports has found that being overweight is an additional burden on brain health and it may exacerbate Alzheimer’s disease.

The pioneering multimodal neuroimaging study revealed obesity may contribute toward neural tissue vulnerability, whilst maintaining a healthy weight in mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia could help to preserve brain structure.

“More than 50 million people are thought to be living with Alzheimer’s disease and despite decades of ground breaking studies and a huge global research effort, we still don’t have a cure for this cruel disease,” said Annalena Venneri, MD, University of Sheffield Neuroscience Institute, Sheffield, United Kingdom. “Prevention plays such an important role in the fight against the disease. It is important to stress this study does not show that obesity causes Alzheimer’s, but what it does show is that being overweight is an additional burden on brain health and it may exacerbate the disease.”

“The diseases that cause dementia such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia lurk in the background for many years, so waiting until your 60s to lose weight is too late,” she said. “We need to start thinking about brain health and preventing these diseases much earlier. Educating children and adolescents about the burden being overweight has on comorbidities including neurodegenerative diseases is vital.”

For the study, the researchers examined MRI brain scans from 47 patients clinically diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia, 68 patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 57 cognitively healthy individuals. The researchers compared multiple brain images and measured differences in local concentrations of brain tissues to assess grey matter volume, white matter integrity, cerebral blood flow, and obesity.

In patients with mild dementia, a positive association was found between obesity and grey matter volume around the right temporoparietal junction. This suggests obesity might contribute toward neural vulnerability in cognitively healthy individuals and those with mild cognitive impairment.

The study also found that maintaining a healthy weight while having mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia could help preserve brain structure in the presence of age and disease-related weight loss.

“We found that maintaining a healthy weight could help preserve brain structure in people who are already experiencing mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia,” said Matteo De Marco, MD, University of Sheffield Neuroscience Institute. “Unlike other diseases such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, people don’t often think about the importance of nutrition in relation to neurological conditions, but these findings show it can help to preserve brain structure.”

Reference: https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease-repo...

SOURCE: University of Sheffield