How Being Fat Can Cause Dementia

Being overweight has been associated with a number of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Now a new study shows that being overweight in midlife significantly increases your chances of developing dementia later in life. You can read a summary of the study here.

The researchers are unclear about the reason for this observation, but do suggest the possibility that inflammation from being overweight, or diabetes and cardiovascular complications, can damage brain cells. What they’re majorly missing is the fact that the more overweight you are, the more likely you’ll have obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a major cause of hypoxia and brain injury. I’ve written numerous times in the past that sleep apnea has be shown to directly cause brain tissue injury, especially in areas that control memory, executive function, and even autonomic nervous system center that control breathing and heart rate.

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2 thoughts on “How Being Fat Can Cause Dementia

  1. It continues to amaze me how the medical profession has a blind spot for sleep apnea. Being overweight is a risk factor for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes inflammation and brain damage. Sleep apnea is causing the dementia!

  2. they definitely dropped the ball not making the connection to OSA. I am glad they looked at obesity in middle age, however. because it seems that once a person really goes into dementia, they become somewhat cachectic and don’t really fit the profile that most docs (mistakenly) think of as associated with OSA. I have an in-law who has developed dementia in his 70s. he was heavier prior to developing this, and snored. now he has lost quite a bit of weight and no longer snores. so no one thinks there’s a problem although I am sure he has UARS. I have been trying to convince the family that he should have a sleep study but they don’t seem to understand the level of my concern or the possibility some of his cognitive problems might be reversible if SDB were treated. the cachexia of dementia probably is a barrier in many ways for these people to be evaluated, as their doctors might not think to order a study. they need to understand the continuum and the significance of being overweight in the past.