Adiposity in Early Old Age Tied to MRI Signs of Brain Aging Later

Higher BMI, larger waist circumference in one's 60s significantly associated with cortical thinning

WEDNESDAY, July 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Adiposity in early old age is associated with reduced gray matter later in life, according to a study published online July 24 in Neurology.

Michelle R. Caunca, from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues examined data from 1,289 participants in the Northern Manhattan MRI Sub-Study to examine the correlations between measures of obesity in middle to early old age and later-life magnetic resonance imaging markers of brain aging.

Participants were aged 64 years on average at baseline. The researchers found that in fully adjusted models, greater body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) were significantly associated with thinner cortices (BMI β, −0.089; WC β, −0.103). Obese participants (BMI ≥30 kg/m²) exhibited smaller cortical thickness compared with those with BMI <25 kg/m² (β, −0.207). For those aged <65 years, these correlations were particularly evident. For total cerebral volume, there were similar but weaker associations.

"These results are exciting because they raise the possibility that by losing weight, people may be able to stave off aging of their brains and potentially the memory and thinking problems that can come along with brain aging," a coauthor said in a statement. "However, with the rising number of people globally who are overweight or obese and the difficulty many experience with losing weight, obviously this is a concern for public health in the future as these people age."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries.

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