Body Mass, Inflammation, and Cognition – What is the strongest link?

Posted on November 28, 2016

Photo: flickr

Body mass index (BMI) has been linked to inflammation, and systemic inflammation has been linked to decreased cognition. Now, a new study directly links a high BMI to lower cognitive functioning. The current study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, is the first step in identifying a biologically plausible mechanism for the connection between BMI and cognition.

Two cohorts of people aged 50 years and older from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging were evaluated with one group of 9000 people and the other with approximately 12,500 people.

Over a 6-year period, the authors correlated BMI, inflammatory markers, and cognition with results in both groups displaying the same – higher BMI was associated with greater cognitive decline.

At the beginning of the study, higher BMI has a correlation to greater increase in levels of inflammatory markers (specifically C-reactive protein [CRP]) over the next four years. The change in CRP predicted greater decline in memory and executive functioning over the following 2 years (a total of 6 years from start of the study). As established literature already links inflammation to cognitive decline, however, these findings take it a step further by highlighting the role of BMI in systemic inflammation.

BMI is a function of body mass and height, and most data reveal an inverse relationship between physical activity and BMI. Similarly, regular exercise has been shown to prevent cognitive decline in middle aged adults or older.

Even though BMI does not account for a person’s amounts of body fat or muscle mass as both of which can skew the calculation. General trends are intuitive- high engagement in physical activity will aid in decrease of body weight, lower BMI and thus, improve cognition.

It was noticed that changes in cognition related to aging often take years – even decades – to appear, so a healthy BMI at younger ages may prevent cognitive changes later in life. Recent study indicated that healthy lifestyle habits act as protective effects against cognitive decline, asserting that exercise and maintaining health body weight were important for 20 years before the onset of cognitive decline.

Having a healthy BMI is also correlated to decreased risks of many diseases and conditions that affect most of the major body’s important organ systems. By simply reducing BMI may be a simple, low-cost intervention to decrease the burden of cognitive impairment.

To read the full article, please click on link below.

Category(s):Cognitive Problems Amnesia / Dementia, Health Psychology

Source material from Brain Blogger

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