According to research, stable weight is linked to cognitive function as you age.

July 25, 2022

About the Study

This was true regardless of BMI status at the start, including normal weight or underweight categories. Researchers examined nearly 16,000 older adults who underwent dementia screening over a five-year period and discovered those with significant changes in BMI—representing a 5 percent increase or decrease—had a greater likelihood of cognitive decline. Because the body is probably better able to maintain homeostasis with other crucial health indices like blood pressure and cholesterol, a steady BMI may be protective.

Mixed Evidence

Although other researchers have found that higher BMI in senior participants in prior studies was associated with greater cognitive impairment and dementia, it is still unclear if excess weight is harmful or beneficial for brain health throughout aging. One study, for instance, found a link between waist circumference and worse cognition in older women with Type 2 diabetes. Another study, which followed more than 450,000 obese people for 12 years starting in midlife, discovered a link between obesity and dementia for some age groups, but the risk decreased as people aged. According to that study, obese adults over 80 actually had a lower risk of developing dementia than those in the control group who were not obese.

Movement Over Weight Loss

Given the findings of the latest study, it is possible that, as we age, the emphasis should shift more toward enhancing fitness and mobility than toward making large weight reductions for improved cognitive health and longer life. The conclusion of a 2021 research review in the journal iScience, which examined studies assessing mortality risk reduction connected with weight loss compared to physical exercise, was that this may be true even with obesity. According to this review, exercising lowers the risk.

In fact, a weight-neutral strategy that emphasizes fitness for health rather than weight loss or weight control may be advantageous to people. When a person becomes more physically active, their body weight may go down but frequently stays the same. For those who make weight loss their major objective, it might be discouraging. Concentrating on other objectives like increased mobility, enhanced function, and weight stability may help people stay motivated.
It doesn't take much to notice benefits in things like blood pressure and blood sugar regulation.

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