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Daily Dose: Variable BMI Pattern May Serve as Indicator for Dementia

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Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.


On December 15, 2022, we reported on a longitudinal study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association that followed a cohort of Framingham Heart Study Offspring participants for nearly 40 years.

The study

Researchers tested a novel hypothesis: individuals whose body mass index (BMI) increases until late mid-life followed by BMI decline in subsequent years are more likely to develop dementia. The investigators tapped data from the longitudinal community-based Framingham Offspring cohort and identified 2405 participants, aged 30 to 50 years without dementia. As part of Framingham protocol all participants underwent serial health examinations, an average of 4 years apart, which provided data on BMI trajectories and cognitive status over time.

According to the results, decreasing BMI trends were associated with higher risk of developing dementia later in life. Decliners with first early mid-life increasing and then later mid-life declining patterns of BMI were at greater increased risk of dementia compared to non-decliners.

Clinical implications

“The current study spans nearly 40 years of longitudinal measurement of BMI and surveillance for incident dementia in a community-based cohort. It sought to provide some initial insight into how patterns of BMI from an initially middle-aged group may impact later life risk for dementia. Future studies will be needed to determine whether these findings extend to younger adulthood…Conclusions based on current findings suggest that variable BMI patterns across the lifespan may be a prodromal marker of dementia.”

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