Study: Childhood obesity increases dementia risk

Study: Childhood obesity increases dementia risk
Study: Childhood obesity increases dementia risk


A recent study found that children who are overweight may be more likely to develop dementia in old age.


The study, which was conducted on 1,200 children who were followed for 30 years, found that leaner and thinner children had better thinking skills later in life.


Scientists believe their enhanced cognitive abilities could continue to protect them from stealing their memories in their old age.


Child obesity has increased dramatically over the past few decades. Much of the research has blamed this rise, which was also observed in adults, on fast diets and sedentary lifestyles, which are characterized by sedentary movement, according to the British newspaper, "Daily Mail".


And while a number of measures can be taken to aid weight loss, dementia is still an incurable condition and there is no cure yet, and there is no proven way to prevent memory loss either.


Dementia describes a group of progressive neurological disorders. Staying healthy and exercising in middle age have been repeatedly linked to preventing dementia risk.


Recent research suggests that the protective effect can start even early in life.


The findings support public health strategies to reduce childhood obesity rates, said lead author Michele Kalisaya, from Monash University in Melbourne.


Developing strategies...is important because it can contribute to improving cognitive performance in middle age she added.


The study also suggests that preventive strategies against future cognitive decline may need to start in early childhood.


She claimed this was so that the brain can develop a sufficient reserve against the development of conditions such as dementia.


The study, which began in 1985, tested 1,244 children on how fast they could run a mile, how far they could jump, how fast they could run 50 meters, and how many push-ups they could do in 30 seconds.


Waist-to-hip ratio measurements were also taken to determine who was thinner and who had more fat.


The participants were tested again between 2017 and 2019, when they were in their 40s, but this time for their cognitive ability.


The tests assessed reaction time, memory and attention span. The researchers found that those who were leaner and thinner during childhood scored higher on quizzes given their processing speed and attention.


This was important, the researchers said, because declines in cognitive performance in middle age are associated with greater odds of mild cognitive impairment and full-blown dementia in old age.


It is believed that being physically fit during childhood improves cardiovascular health by keeping the blood vessels that feed the brain in good shape.


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