Memory Loss in Old Age: Is Weight Loss Preceding?

Memory Loss in Old Age: Is Weight Loss Preceding?

If you accidentally lose weight during the transition from middle to old age, you are more likely to have a slight memory problem and later dementia. This is the result of a study by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, with just under 2,000 participants. At the start of the study, the subjects were at least 70 years old and showed normal cognitive performance. The scientists performed regular neuropsychological tests to test their skills in various areas such as memory, attention, action planning and language. The current weight or body mass index (BMI) was compared with maximum values ​​of the middle age from 45 to 65 years.

Over an average observation period of four years, mild cognitive impairments were found in 524 cases, which were usually also noticed by the environment. According to estimates, 5 to 15 percent of those affected develop progressive dementia from these minor difficulties.

The evaluation of the data showed that people with cognitive impairments lost weight faster than comparison people. Greater weight loss was associated with a higher risk of memory impairment: for every five kilograms in a decade, the probability increased by 24 percent - regardless of other factors such as gender, education and genetic predisposition.

However, it remains open whether interventions to stabilize weight can counteract dementia, the authors emphasize in the journal JAMA Neurology. Further studies are to follow to uncover the background of this connection. Due to a lack of nutrient intake, certain hormones may no longer be produced sufficiently, which promotes memory loss. On the other hand, depression and apathy can precede dementia and lead to loss of appetite and weight loss. (Heike Kreutz, aid)

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