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Extra Weight Could Mean Increased Risk of Dementia

You might not be in the mood for a good workout this morning or tomorrow, but burning off some calories now could lessen the risk of developing dementia such as Alzheimer's disease later -- by more than 70 percent, says a recent report in the journal Neurology .

While earlier studies had shown increased risk of dementia from being obese, the new research shows that being overweight is enough to increase the risk.

The study followed 8,534 twins over the age of 65, all of whose heights and weights had all been measured 30 years earlier. Among the elderly twins, 350 had been diagnosed with dementia and 114 with possible dementia.

The researchers found that 26 percent of those without dementia had been overweight in midlife, compared with 36 percent of those with possible dementia and 39 percent of those with diagnosed dementia. Three percent of those with no dementia had been obese in midlife, compared with five percent of those with questionable dementia and seven percent of those with diagnosed dementia.

The causes of the relationship are unclear, but one possibility is the inflammation associated with being overweight can damage brain cells and produce dementia. Also, a higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with diabetes and vascular disease, both of which can contribute to dementia.

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