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Obesity thought to be a factor in Alzheimers

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Old 06-22-2008, 09:52 AM   #1
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Default Obesity thought to be a factor in Alzheimers

http://www.aolhealth.com/condition-c...185x1200189433


From the editors at Netscape

Here is the startling bottom line: Heavy people's brains may age faster.

If you're overweight or obese in middle age, it can have a devastating effect on your health by causing you to age far faster than normal. According to a study from the San Francisco VA Medical Center, being overweight in your 40s and 50s causes a lower level of certain brain chemicals that signal good brain health and function. Without these chemicals, the brain's aging process speeds up, putting you at a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

The study: Led by Dr. Stefan Gazdzinski, the researchers examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans from 50 healthy middle-aged men and women, measuring amounts of a variety of chemicals in the white and gray matter of the brain, reports Reuters. Bodies of nerve cells make up the gray matter, while connections between these cells make up the white matter. Of the 50 participants, five were obese, 15 were overweight and 30 were of normal weight.

The results: The higher a person's body mass index (BMI), the ratio of body height to weight, the lower the concentration of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), a brain chemical that serves several functions and also acts as a marker for overall brain health, in the white matter of the brain's frontal, temporal and parietal regions, reports Reuters. In addition, overweight and obese people had less NAA in their frontal gray matter, as well as smaller concentrations of choline-containing metabolite, which are substances that are key to the formation of cell membranes, in their frontal white matter.

The strongest relationship between BMI and brain chemistry was seen in the white matter of the frontal region, which is believed to be particularly vulnerable to aging-related damage, reports Reuters.

__________________________________________________ _______________Certainly not the largest study ever done. But it is something. Just one more reason to keep fit and trim. I've always thought that the affects of being overweight/obese were greatly underreported, because we just don't know enough about it. I wouldn't be surprised if we find out down the road that more and more diseases are linked to being obese.
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Old 06-22-2008, 02:15 PM   #2
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Very interesting. My observation...I can only speak from what I know. Dementia (alzheimers and other types), seem to run on my grandmothers side of the family. Non of whom were obese. In fact, I know others (neighbors, friend's relatives, etc) non of which are/were overweight. Not to negate the correlation of obesity to disease. These people may of had high colesterol, high blood pressure or other health issues; they were not overweight though.
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Old 06-22-2008, 09:18 PM   #3
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LOIS ~ I would have to echo what you said; as someone who has worked in four longcare facilities with many patients that had Alzheimers and dementia, I don't recall any that were obese, possibly a couple who may have been a little overweight. My MIL had Alzheimers and was thin all her life; my DH has early symptoms of the disease (and he is very upset about it too) and is only 130 lbs. We also know other people with this disease and they are normal weight.

While I am very aware that obesity can cause many health problems, I think this research is really reaching for another disease to blame obesity on; and I'm not impressed by this very, very small study. Eventually, with the rise in weight problems in North America, a co-relation could be made simply becuz of sheer numbers, I suppose. It still never ceases to amaze me that many people who are thin or normal weight are dying of all the diseases the medical community keeps blaming obesity for.

I once went into a doctor's office that had a huge 'nude' picture of a very obese woman with a caption that said and I quote, "Obesity is the cause of the 100 most common diseases that lead to death" ... whhhhhaaaaattttt??? Of course, this poster was there to make everyone who is overweight feel bad. That doctor left town not long after becuz no-one wanted to be his patient anymore.

And, I'm sure that remark had nothing to do with science at all. Couldn't let this article go by without commenting: to me it's just another anti-fat study jumping on the bandwagon ... if all these people (esp doctors) really cared about us all, they would put all their money and superior brain power together, to find a way to rid us all of obestiy once and for all; but nope, I don't expect to see that happen anytime soon, becuz they are all making too much money studying us right now ...

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Old 06-23-2008, 03:06 PM   #4
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One of my aunts had alzheimers and she was SKINNY all her life, so yes, I agree with the rest that this study is full of crap.

I may cause some controversy for saying this, but I truly don't think obesity is the root of all health problems. Yes, if you are morbidly obese, you are putting yourself at higher risk for things like high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and so on, so forth, BUT... what about all the healthy fat people? Seriously, I've met plenty of healthy fat people and plenty of not-so-healthy thin ones. Heck, when I was fat, I was mostly healthy, and the one health problem I did have was one I had before ever becoming overweight. I was emotionally miserable, but the fact remained that I had normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, and an otherwise clean bill of health with the exception of being heavy.

I hate how the media is trying to blame everything on weight these days and I believe that our societal neurosis regarding obesity is ironically contributing to our national epidemic. That doctor who had a picture of a naked fat woman on his wall sounds like somewhat of a degrading person who had the audacity to openly harbor fatphobia.
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Old 06-23-2008, 03:49 PM   #5
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I don't think the (teeny tiny) study said that alzheimers was exclusively or even close to exclusively just for the obese. Actually, it didn't say too much about anything.

But I really can't help but think, perhaps wrongfully so, that having more weight on oneself, more cells, more fat, more SELF, can't lead to a slew of unknown health risks.

Of course I am more then aware that oodles and oodles of healthy weight people suffer from many, many health problems and that many overweight people have zero health issues at all.

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Old 06-23-2008, 03:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockinrobin View Post

But I really can't help but think, perhaps wrongfully so, that having more weight on oneself, more cells, more fat, more SELF, can't lead to a slew of unknown health risks.
Did you mean to say "can"?
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:17 PM   #7
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Dementia can take many years to manifest and it is associated with weight loss even in the early stages. So many of the thin dementia patients may have started out with relatively high BMIs. The study looked at BMIs in middle age.
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulBliss View Post
Did you mean to say "can"?
What I really meant to say is that: I really can't help but think, perhaps wrongfully so, that having more weight on oneself, more cells, more fat, more SELF, puts one at added risks to a slew of health problems.

I will be the first to admit though, that that was a big fear, a big phobia of mine. Again, perhaps wrongfully so. But I was certain, absolutely certain that by me being so overweight, that it was a given that I was going to get some dreadful disease (known or unknown) directly caused by my obesity. I was extremely paranoid about it.

And again, I am more then aware of the scary things that can happen to "normal" weight people.
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockinrobin View Post
What I really meant to say is that: I really can't help but think, perhaps wrongfully so, that having more weight on oneself, more cells, more fat, more SELF, puts one at added risks to a slew of health problems.
Okay, so you DID mean to say "can" and not "can't". Double negative and all...


"But I really can't help but think, perhaps wrongfully so, that having more weight on oneself, more cells, more fat, more SELF, CAN lead to a slew of unknown health risks.".



I am not trying to argue, I won't comment on the subject in this thread at this time, but I am just trying to clarify your stance on the matter.

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Old 06-23-2008, 05:20 PM   #10
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IMO, both the obesity and the brain changes come from shared root causes--they are found together, but that doesn't necessarily mean one causes the other. The root cause, seems pretty obvious to me, is the standard American diet of processed foods, empty calories, etc. However, it's much more difficult to study dietary effects than it is to just study obesity, for a few reasons. One, the difficulty of finding people who live in America and are available for studies who are NOT following the standard American diet. Two, the margin of error in studies where participants are asked about what they eat (versus actually being fed a controlled diet as part of the study)--participants typically aren't honest and/or don't remember accurately. Three, in order to really, really look at the effect of diet on health you need to do longevity studies...and those are enormously expensive and cost a lot of money to conduct.

There just aren't any studies on the effect of diet versus obesity as an independent risk factor which have participants who are NOT on the standard American diet, AND which use controlled diets, AND which are longevity studies.
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Old 06-23-2008, 05:23 PM   #11
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Correlation does not imply causation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WarMaiden View Post
However, it's much more difficult to study dietary effects than it is to just study obesity, for a few reasons. One, the difficulty of finding people who live in America and are available for studies who are NOT following the standard American diet. Two, the margin of error in studies where participants are asked about what they eat (versus actually being fed a controlled diet as part of the study)--participants typically aren't honest and/or don't remember accurately. Three, in order to really, really look at the effect of diet on health you need to do longevity studies...and those are enormously expensive and cost a lot of money to conduct.

There just aren't any studies on the effect of diet versus obesity as an independent risk factor which have participants who are NOT on the standard American diet, AND which use controlled diets, AND which are longevity studies.
Yes!

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Old 06-23-2008, 07:12 PM   #12
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While correlation certainly does not imply causality, I wouldn't rule out the *possibility* that a high percentage of body fat could, in and of itself, contribute to neurological disorders. Body fat affects the production of hormones and hormones have a significant (and complex) impact on brain health.
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Old 06-23-2008, 07:42 PM   #13
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This was an interesting article. Obviously this was a small study and doesn't tell us anything definitive. I have always thought genetics to be the main cause of Alzheimers. After reading this article, I see it is usually implicated in early-onset Alzheimers disease, moreso than late onset. As a nurse who has taken care of these patients in the past, I don't remember seeing many that were obese, however I am not in that area of care any more.
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