Stable Weight Tied to Cognitive Function as You Age

It is normal for older persons to have cognitive decline, and preventing and treating this condition is a serious public health concern. The field of aging research has effectively discovered numerous risk factors for cognitive decline in old age. Consistent evidence links midlife body mass index (BMI), the most prevalent measure of global adiposity, to cognitive decline in old age. Obese individuals in midlife have an increased risk of dementia in old age compared to non-obese ones.

Michal Schnaider Beeri, a professor of psychiatry, Icahn Mount Sinai in New York City, stated, “There’s something about maintaining weight and BMI that seems to reflect some health resilience,” (BMI is a height-and-weight-based assessment of body fat.)

“In old age, a stable BMI may confer protection against cognitive decline, and tracking BMI, which is simple to measure, at annual medical visits may point to individuals whose cognition is declining and allow for early intervention,” she added.

The current study demonstrates a relationship between the two. It was not designed to determine whether or how increases in BMI accelerate mental deterioration.

Beeri stated, “a person who maintains bone, fat and muscle may have better health in old age.”

She proposed that future research investigate precisely how BMI changes impact brain health.

Consistent evidence links BMI in midlife to negative mental outcomes in old age. Some studies have established a correlation between a high BMI and increased impairment. In contrast, others have found no correlation or even a lower risk among obese older persons. An increased risk of dementia has been connected with weight loss.

However, there is insufficient data regarding concurrent changes in BMI and mental impairment.

For the most recent study, Beeri’s team evaluated data from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center on almost 16,000 60-year-olds, none of whom had been diagnosed with dementia before the study. Their BMI was calculated annually.

After around five years of follow-up, all participants had some degree of mental impairment, but it was almost 60% faster in the group whose BMI fluctuated than those whose BMI remained steady.

Even after researchers accounted for other risk factors for cognitive decline, such as smoking, diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s susceptibility genes, these results persisted.

Given the findings of a recent study, it is feasible that as we age, rather than focusing on dramatic weight changes for improved cognitive health and a longer life, we should prioritize exercise and mobility. This may be true even for obese people.

In addition, it suggests that individuals may benefit from a weight-neutral approach that emphasizes fitness for health rather than weight loss or weight management. As a person becomes more physically active, their body weight may fall, but in most situations, it does not alter. This can be challenging for those whose major objective is weight loss.

Focusing on additional objectives such as increased mobility, enhanced function, and weight stability could aid in maintaining desire. It does not require much to observe changes in areas such as blood sugar control and blood pressure.

Even minimizing the duration of daily sitting has health benefits. Regularly engaging in moderate-to-vigorous-intensity exercise is preferable, however.

Interpretation: The study provides fresh evidence that bigger fluctuations in BMI over time are related to a faster rate of cognitive deterioration, suggesting that stability in BMI predicts a better cognitive trajectory in initially non-demented older persons.


According to a new study, weight changes may accelerate cognitive loss with age in terms of maintaining brain health. Focusing on weight stability and promoting mobility instead of weight loss may be more beneficial. If you are interested in beginning a new fitness routine, you should first consult with a healthcare professional to establish the appropriate activities for you.

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