Being obese in your twenties more than doubles the risk of dementia, a major study shows.

Researchers found that going to a good school also reduced the chance of developing Alzheimer’s in later life.

Their study revealed that men and women who are obese between the ages of 20 and 49 are 2.5 times as likely to go on to develop dementia.

But becoming overweight in mid-life – between the ages of 50 and 69 – had a much smaller effect. 

Being obese in your twenties more than doubles the risk of dementia, a major study by Columbia University in New York shows

Being obese in your twenties more than doubles the risk of dementia, a major study by Columbia University in New York shows

It increased the Alzheimer’s risk by just 50 per cent in men, and not at all in women.

Carrying excess fat over the age of 70 was found to have a slightly protective effect on brain function.

The research, led by Columbia University in New York, was based on data from 5,100 older adults whose weight had been recorded for medical research throughout their adult life. 

The authors said their findings showed the importance of focusing on obesity prevention in early life.

Having diabetes or high blood pressure as a teenager was also found to significantly increase the risk of dementia. 

The study will add to fears that Britain’s obesity epidemic is storing up a time bomb of future health problems.

Latest NHS data shows that two thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

Researchers found that going to a good school also reduced the chance of developing Alzheimer's in later life

Researchers found that going to a good school also reduced the chance of developing Alzheimer’s in later life

Experts believe obesity causes inflammation which can increase damage to brain cells as we age, leading to memory loss. 

Separate research, which is also being presented today at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, found that going to a good school cuts the risk of dementia.

Scientists looked at data on 2,400 US adults, now aged over 65.

They found that those who lived in areas with better schools experienced less memory loss when they were older. 

Researchers believe this is partly because they end up going on to university and have more years of learning.

Fiona Carragher, research chief at the Alzheimer's Society, says: ‘There are steps within our control that we can all take to reduce our risk of dementia, so although Joe Wicks's PE lessons have ended, keeping fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one factor that can help'

Fiona Carragher, research chief at the Alzheimer’s Society, says: ‘There are steps within our control that we can all take to reduce our risk of dementia, so although Joe Wicks’s PE lessons have ended, keeping fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one factor that can help’

However, it is not just about years in education, but also about small class sizes and attendance.

Fiona Carragher, research chief at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘There are steps within our control that we can all take to reduce our risk of dementia, so although Joe Wicks’s PE lessons have ended, keeping fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one factor that can help.

‘However factors such as quality of education require a society change driven by government policy.

A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an important step towards reducing the risk.

‘Research we’ve supported, such as the 2017 Lancet commission, has shown that obesity in mid-life may increase dementia risk, so it’s interesting to see a study that shows this may also be the case in younger people too.’

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