Stay slim in mid-life to stave off dementia

London: Want to stave off dementia? Shed the flab and try to stay slim in middle age, say researchers.

A new study, led by Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, has found that people who pile on weight in middle age are at a higher risk of developing dementia as they grow older, the latest edition of the `Neurology` journal reported.

Study`s lead author Dr Weili Xu said: "Currently, 1.6 billion adults are overweight or obese worldwide and over 50 percent of adults in the United States and Europe fit into this category.

"Our results contribute to the growing evidence that controlling body weight or losing weight in middle age could reduce your risk of dementia."

For their study, the researchers studied 8,534 pairs of twins age 65 or older. Of those, 350 were diagnosed with dementia and 114 had possible dementia. Information on each subject`s height and weight had been taken 30 years earlier.

Nearly 30 percent had been either overweight or obese during middle age. The study found people who were overweight or obese at mid-life had 80 percent higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer`s disease or vascular dementia in later life compared with people with normal body mass index.

The results remained the same after considering other factors, such as education, diabetes and vascular disease, a newspaper reported.

A quarter of those without dementia had been overweight in mid-life, compared with more than a third of those with questionable dementia. It also emerged 39 percent of those with diagnosed dementia were overweight in mid-life.

Only three per cent of those with no dementia had been obese in mid-life, compared with five per cent of those with questionable dementia and seven per cent of those with diagnosed dementia, the findings revealed.