Piling on pounds in your teens doubles the risk of dementia when older, study shows

PILING on the pounds in your teens can more than double the risk of dementia in old age, a study suggests.

Men and women who were obese from as young as 20 were 2.5 times more likely to develop the disease.

And even ladies who carried just a little excess weight were 1.8-times more likely to suffer than those with a healthy BMI.

But fellas who were equally podgy during early adulthood – aged 20 to 49 – were at no greater risk of brain fade.

The findings come days after Boris Johnson launched his plan for tackling Brits’ bulging waistlines and flagging health.

Researchers at Columbia University, in New York, analysed the weight and medical records of 5,104 people.

For women, a higher BMI in early adulthood increased the risk of dementia and a higher BMI in old age (70 to 89) decreased the risk.

There was no apparent link between dementia and BMI in middle age (50 to 69).

For men, being obese in early adulthood or overweight in middle age increased the risk, while a higher BMI in old age reduced the risk.

Study leader Dr Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri said: “Our study is the first to report heightened dementia risk with higher early life BMI, for both women and men.”

Fiona Carragher, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said the findings show the importance of a healthy diet and exercise.

She added: “A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an important step towards reducing the risk of dementia later in life.

“Previous research has shown that obesity in mid-life may increase dementia risk, so it’s interesting to see a study that shows this may also be the case in younger people too.

“But this can’t tell us if high BMI is a direct cause of dementia, there could be other factors at play.

“The number of people living with dementia is set to rise to one million by 2025 so it’s becoming increasingly urgent that we find ways to prevent people developing the condition in the first place.

“We can all take steps towards a healthy lifestyle, whether it’s by watching our diets, or making the most of the sunny days and getting outside for a walk – it’s never too late, or early, to make a change.”

The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago, United States.

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