The Deadly Link Between Obesity and the Onset of Alzheimer’s
It’s no secret that the rise in obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. If you need one more good reason to control your weight, here it is. While obesity has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease for some time now, recently a number of studies have revealed a link between middle-aged obesity and an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.How can obesity lead to Alzheimer’s?
Obesity partly accounts for the onset of metabolic syndrome, which involves insulin resistance, hypertension, and centralized body fat. Now data suggest an association between this metabolic syndrome and cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s in elderly people.
It’s important to note that people with diabetes run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. However, evidence suggests that people who have high insulin levels are walking the path towards Alzheimer’s as well.
This can be partly explained by the fact that the more fat a person is carrying around, the more resistant the body comes to insulin, which lowers blood sugar. To try to remedy this insulin resistance, the body makes more insulin. If the cycle continues – insulin resistance and insulin production – the end result is type-2 diabetes.
This is particularly dangerous because high insulin levels cause brain inflammation. When inflammation sets in, there are increased levels of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain– the chief ingredient in the plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.Unanswered questions.
The National Institute on Aging is working towards understanding this link between obesity, metabolic syndrome, and Alzheimer’s. There are many questions that need to be analyzed and answered before a definitive link can be established. For example…
Is normal brain aging influenced by obesity and the individual components of metabolic syndrome? If so, how?
Does metabolic syndrome accelerate brain aging and if so, how?
Does overfeeding or under feeding in childhood have late life cognitive consequences?
And if the metabolic syndrome is a pathway to Alzheimer’s or if it contributes to the progression of the disease how can it be treated?
Answering these questions will go a long way towards understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and hopefully lead to prevention and treatment for those suffering with this crippling disease.