Neurology Central

Weight loss during aging linked to increased mild cognitive impairment risk

Researchers have found that increasing weight loss per decade from mid to late life is linked to an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The results of the study were published recently in the journal JAMA Neurology.

MCI leads to dementia in around 5–15% of individuals. Unintentional weight changes have been thought to be associated with dementia risk, however studies so far have been inconclusive. Finding evidence to support an association between declining weight and body mass index and MCI could be utilized to develop new preventive strategies for MCI.

Researchers led by Rosebud O. Roberts from the Mayo Clinic (MN, USA) collected data from participants of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who were 70 years of age or older. In addition, the team collected height and weight from midlife medical records (40 to 65 years old).

Of 1895 cognitively normal study participants (50/50 male to female ratio), the researchers identified 524 individuals who developed MCI during an average follow up period of 4.4 years. Participants who developed MCI tended to be older, with an increased chance of carrying the APOE*E4 allele and were more likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease or stroke compared to participants who did not develop MCI.

The researchers also found that participants who developed MCI had a greater average weight change per decade from midlife than those who did not develop MCI (-4.4 lbs vs. -2.6 lbs). A greater decline in weight per decade was linked with an increased risk of incident MCI, with a weight loss of 11 pounds per decade corresponding to a 24% increased risk of MCI. Whether weight loss was intentional or unintentional was unknown.

“In summary, our findings suggest that an increasing rate of weight loss from midlife to late life is a marker for MCI and may help identify persons at increased risk of MCI,” concluded the authors.

Source:The JAMA Network press release:; Alhurani RE, Vassilaki M, Aakre JA et al. Decline in weight and incident mild cognitive impairment. JAMA Neurology (2016). doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.4756 (online ahead of print).