Obesity-related brain symptoms mimic Alzheimer’s disease

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In a study from McGill University, scientists found a correlation between neurodegeneration in obese people and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients.

This suggests that losing excess weight could slow cognitive decline in aging and lower the risk for AD.

Previous research has shown that obesity is linked with Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-related changes, such as cerebrovascular damage and amyloid-β accumulation.

However, to date, no research has made a direct comparison between brain symptoms in AD and obesity.

In the study, the team examined more than 1,300 individuals and compared patterns of gray matter atrophy in obesity and AD.

They compared the AD patients with healthy controls, and obese with non-obese people creating maps of gray matter atrophy for each group.

The scientists found that obesity and AD affected gray matter cortical thinning in similar ways.

For example, thinning in the right temporoparietal cortex and left prefrontal cortex were similar in both groups. Cortical thinning may be a sign of neurodegeneration.

This suggests that obesity may cause the same type of neurodegeneration as found in people with AD.

Obesity is increasingly recognized as a multisystem disease affecting respiratory, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular systems, among others.

This study helps reveal a neurological impact as well, showing obesity may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The team says this study strengthens previous literature pointing to obesity as a big factor in AD by showing that cortical thinning might be one of the potential risk mechanisms.

The results highlight the importance of decreasing weight in obese and overweight people in midlife, to decrease the subsequent risk of neurodegeneration and dementia.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about how unhealthy blood pressure increases your dementia risk, and vitamin B12 deficiency may increase risk of Alzheimer’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and food pyramid and activities could help prevent Alzheimer’s.

The study was conducted by Filip Morys et al and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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