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Being fat as a child may increase dementia risk in old age, 30-year study reveals
- The study was based on fitness tests of approximately 1,200 Australian children conducted in 1985
- Then, more than three decades later, their cognitive skills were tested as adults
- Adults who were fitter children were found to perform better in the mental tests
- Scientists Say This Enhanced Cognitive Ability May Protect Them Against Dementia
Overweight children may be more prone to dementia in old age, research suggests.
A study of 1,200 children, followed for 30 years, found that fitter and leaner youth had better thinking skills later in life.
Scientists believe their enhanced cognitive ability could protect them from being deprived of their memories in old age.
Moving children! Experts say more active middle-aged children have better cognitive skills and this could protect them from dementia
Child obesity rates have skyrocketed in recent decades, with up to a third of young people being fat by the time they enter high school.
The increase – also seen in adults – is attributed to junk food diets and a sedentary lifestyle.
There is currently no cure for dementia, the umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological conditions.
But there is also no proven way to prevent memory loss.
Staying healthy and exercising in middle age have been repeatedly linked to warding off dementia.
Fresh research, published in the Journal of science and medicine in sportssuggest that the protective effect could start even earlier in life.
Lead author Professor Michele Callisaya, of Monash University in Melbourne, said the findings support public health strategies to reduce childhood obesity.
“Developing strategies … is important because it can contribute to improvements in cognitive performance in middle age,” she said.
“The study also indicates that protective strategies against future cognitive decline may need to start as early as early childhood.”
Rising obesity in children leads to a 50% increase in the number with type 2 diabetes
According to a charitable organization, the number of children with type 2 diabetes has caused a huge increase in childhood obesity.
The number of children treated in pediatric diabetes wards in England and Wales has increased from 621 in 2015/16 to 973 in 2020/21.
Diabetes UK today called the 57 percent increase over the past five years ‘concerned’.
It accused the government of ‘letting down our children’ and called for concerted action to tackle Britain’s bulging waistline.
And Diabetes UK warned that the cost of living could lead to further problems in the coming years.
Experts described the mix of rising obesity and tight finances as a “perfect storm that threatens irreversible damage to young people’s health.”
This, she claimed, is “so that the brain can develop sufficient reserve against developing conditions such as dementia.”
The study, which began in 1985, tested 1,244 children how fast they could run a mile, how far they could jump, how fast they could sprint 50 meters and how many pushups they could do in 30 seconds.
The children also had their waist-to-hip rations taken to measure how fat or thin they were.
Participants were tested again between 2017 and 2019, when they were in their 40s, but this time for their cognitive abilities.
Tests rated their reaction time, memory and attention span.
Scientists found that those who were fitter and thinner the higher the children scored on the quizzes, looking at their processing speed and attention.
The authors said this was significant because a decline in cognitive performance in middle age has been associated with a greater chance of mild cognitive impairment and full-blown dementia in old age.
Being fit as a child is thought to improve cardiovascular health by keeping the blood vessels that supply the brain in good shape.
Figures from this year showed that the proportion of four- and five-year-olds who are obese increased by 46 percent from 2019/20 to 2020/21.
The rates rose from one in ten children with obesity in first grade to one in seven.
In the US, one fifth of children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese.
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. This is expected to increase to 1.5 million by 2040.
According to current estimates, approximately 5.8 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias
Globally, the number of dementia cases is expected to triple by 2050, with 153 million people predicted to live with the condition within a few decades.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT DEPRIVES SUFFERING OF THEIR MEMORIES
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders
A GLOBAL CARE
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (affecting the brain) that affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
There are many different forms of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common.
Some people may have a combination of dementias.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person experiences their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global problem, but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live very old.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, more than 500,000 of whom have Alzheimer’s disease.
It is estimated that the number of people with dementia in the UK will rise to over 1 million by 2025.
There are an estimated 5.5 million Alzheimer’s patients in the US. A similar percentage increase is expected for the coming years.
As a person gets older, the risk of developing dementia also increases.
The number of diagnoses is improving, but it is thought that many people with dementia are still undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently, there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow progression, and the sooner it’s noticed, the more effective treatments are.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society