Diet Time? Higher Levels of Body Fat May Contribute Higher Risk of Dementia

Few people like to diet, but recent research shows that too much body fat is linked to a higher risk of dementia and other health problems. Being proactive with your health and financial planning will help you maintain a better quality of life.

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Diet Time? Higher Levels of Body Fat May Contribute Higher Risk of Dementia
2 Min Read January 13th, 2023

Do you need another reason to lose weight and be more active? According to McMaster University researchers, higher body fat percentages have been linked to cognitive decline, poorer mental processing, and memory problems.

According to the research, lower cognitive scores were inextricably linked to body fat. Even after the research team accounted for cardiovascular risk factors, like diabetes or hypertension, and vascular brain injuries, the result stayed consistent.

Dr. Sonia Anand, a professor of medicine at McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, said the results suggest that strategies to prevent or reduce body fat may preserve cognitive function.

Dr. Sonia Anand

The effect of increased body fat persisted even after adjusting for its effect on increasing cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as vascular brain injury, which should prompt researchers to investigate which other pathways may link excess fat to reduced cognitive function.

The study's co-author Dr. Eric Smith, a neurologist, scientist, and associate professor of clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary, said that one of the best ways to prevent dementia in old age is to preserve cognitive function.

Dr. Eric Smith

This study suggests that one of the ways that good nutrition and physical activity prevent dementia may be by maintaining healthy weight and body fat percentage.

The research participants were aged 30 to 75, with an average age of about 58. About 56% were women; they all lived in either Canada or Poland. The majority were of White European origin, with about 16% of other ethnic backgrounds. Individuals with known cardiovascular disease were excluded.

Fat and Health Issues Long Linked

Researchers have long established that having extra fat surrounding our organs raises our risk of developing metabolic illnesses, such as:

  • Diabetes

  • Fatty liver disease

  • Heart disease and elevated cholesterol

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome 

With research that seems to link dementia and body fat, extra effort should be made to eat a better diet, exercise, and lose weight. Cleveland Clinic psychologist and registered dietitian David Creel, Ph.D., suggests building a cardio routine of at least 150 minutes per week while adding two to three days per week of whole-body strength training.

Any added muscle will increase our calorie burn at rest, whereas cardiovascular exercise will give our metabolism a boost during and for a short time after exercise. Exercise may also have indirect positive benefits on weight by helping us sleep better and manage emotional eating.

Experts say that as you age, you start losing muscle and gain excess body fat due to a shift in your hormones and lack of physical activity. Diet and exercise will help with overall health as you get older.

Act Before Retirement to Be Proactive with Health and Finances

Better overall health in your 40s and 50s will benefit you in your 60s and 70s, improving your quality of life, delaying the need for long-term health and care, and perhaps reducing your risk of dementia.

With long-term health care costs increasing, delaying the need for care will help you maintain more independence and reduce the financial risk and burden on your family.

While planning for the consequences of future long-term care remains vital for retirement planning, you will maintain a better quality of life even once you start needing care.

Experts suggest being proactive with health and financial planning before age 60 to make it easier for you and your family. Things like regular check-ups and lab work, financial planning, including Long-Term Care Insurance, and a discussion with your family and aging will reduce the stress and anxiety for everyone in the family.

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About the Author

Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.

LTC News Contributor Linda Maxwell

Linda Maxwell

Contributor since December 11th, 2017

Editor's Note

Do you have a strategy to improve your quality of life as you age? Have you given this any thought at all? Too many people avoid going to the doctor, taking action to improve their physical and mental health and plan for the consequences of aging.

If you are in your 40s or 50s, take action now.

  • See your doctor annually

  • Be sure to get complete blood work, including a comprehensive metabolic panel 

  • Don't ignore colonoscopies and other recommended testing

  • Complete a will, including a living will

  • Discuss aging with your family

  • Contribute to your employer's 401(k) or other retirement plans

  • Add Long-Term Care Insurance to your plan

Most people get Long-Term Care Insurance in their 50s. The younger and healthier you are, the more affordable a policy will be. Delaying will make it more difficult to get coverage and increase the cost.

An LTC policy will ensure you have access to quality care services, including home care. When you have the resources to pay for quality care, your family can concentrate on being family instead of becoming caregivers.

Professional Help to Ensure You Have the Right Plan

There are several top-rated insurance companies that offer long-term care solutions. Each insurance company has its own underwriting standards, and premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. LTC Insurance is custom designed. A qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will match you with the best company to save you money. A specialist will put together accurate quotes from all the top companies based on your age, health, family history, and other factors.

Accurate Answers to Your Questions About Long-Term Care Planning

LTC NEWS has many tools and resources. These resources can help you in your research as you prepare for your future retirement and plan for the costs and burdens of aging and declining health.

Parent’s Health Declining? Do They Need Care Now?

Get quality care for your parent or parents if they require it. LTC NEWS can assist. We've put together a few comprehensive guides to help you along the way.

Find help locating quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

These four guides can be very helpful as you try to find appropriate long-term care services for a loved one:

If your loved one is fortunate enough to have Long-Term Care Insurance, make sure they use it. Families may wait, believing that they can save the benefits for a rainy day. It is not a good idea to put off using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits.

Today's Reverse Mortgages Can Benefit Older Families

Some people have a large portion of their savings in their homes. With the help of reverse mortgages, you can find ways to pay for quality in-home care, pay for LTC Insurance, and even assist with cash flow during retirement.

Yes, today's reverse mortgages may be the perfect way to pay for a Long-Term Care Insurance policy or even cover the cost of in-home care if you or a loved one is currently in need.

Asking an expert with your questions will help you learn more. Mike Banner, a columnist for LTC NEWS and the host of the television program "62 Who Knew," will respond to your inquiries about long-term care, reverse mortgages, aging, and health.

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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