People may be able to reduce their risk of cognitive decline by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding metabolic abnormalities.
This is according to research published in the American Academy of Neurology's journal Neurology, which revealed overweight people with these conditions experience a faster loss of cognitive skills than the general populace.
Participants in the study were defined as having a metabolic abnormality if they had two or more of any of the following factors: low levels of high-density lipoprotein or 'good' cholesterol, high blood pressure or prescribed drugs for this condition, elevated blood sugar or medication for diabetes, or if they took cholesterol lowering drugs or had high triglycerides.
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A total of 31 per cent of the people involved in the investigation had at least two of the above problems, with 38 per cent of research subjects defined as overweight and with nine per cent considered obese.
Furthermore, 60 per cent of the obese participants were found to be suffering from metabolic abnormalities.
The average age of participants was 50 and 6,401 people were involved in the study, who each took tests on cognitive skills such as memory three times over ten years.
Obese people who were defined as metabolically abnormal experienced a 22.5 per cent faster cognitive decline than normal-weight men and women without these risk factors.
The study, which was supported by international healthcare organisations including the British Medical Research Council, the Bupa Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Academy of Finland, also found obese people who were metabolically normal experienced a more rapid mental decline than the general populace.
"More research is needed to look at the effects of genetic factors and also to take into account how long people have been obese and how long they have had these metabolic risk factors and also to look at cognitive test scores spanning adulthood, to give us a better understanding of the link between obesity and cognitive function," Dr Archana Singh-Manoux of University College London and the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medical in Paris said.
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