Caring Currents

Too Skinny? Too Fat? Both Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Last updated: May 10, 2008

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Looks like Jack Sprat (the guy who ate no fat) is at risk of developing Alzheimer's right along with his wife who could eat no lean. You've already heard that obese people are at greater risk for developing dementias. A major new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analysis of two decades worth of long-term international studies confirms this -- in fact, obesity results in as much as an 80 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer's in women, a 73 percent raised risk for vascular dementia in men, and a 41 percent higher risk for both sexes of developing dementia generally.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that people who are underweight also increase their general dementia risk, by more than a third! The exact causal relationship between size and dementia isn't clear in either the obese or the scrawny.

But -- hooray for some good news -- people who are only somewhat overweight don't appear to have an elevated risk of dementia or Alzheimer's. (Nor do those with ideal body-mass index.) So if that's you, and you're having one of those caregiving days, treat your loved one to an ice cream break. And make yours a double.

Photo by Flickr user noii's used under the Creative Commons attribution license.