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Obesity and Mental Decline

As advertised by multiple media outlets for quite sometime now, obesity is continuing to be a growing problem. However, new research indicates that not only can being obese cause chronic physical health problems, such as elevated blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol (collectively known as a metabolic disorder), but it also affects the rate of mental decline in aging patients.

The new study followed almost 6,500 people over a course of 10 years. At the beginning of the study participants were weighed and their risk factors were taken into account. Participants took a variety of mental function quizzes during 3 separate intervals of the 10 year study period. These tests indicated that those with both obesity and metabolic disorders showed a rapid mental decline of 22.5% faster than patients without any factors.

Statistics show that in 2005 there were 400 million adults with obesity. This number is expected to rise to 700 million adults by 2015. The mental decline effect of obesity begins to affect people around middle age, who also harbor metabolic risk factors and high blood pressure. Those at a healthy weight, or a few extra pounds, have fewer chronic health problems to start with, but show a much slower rate of mental decline.  There is speculation that the rapid decline may also have something to do with heart disease and inflammation, though more studies need to be done to definitively prove this link.

Obesity has the ability to damage many systems in our bodies and limit our regular daily activities. There is so much information available on the health concerns of obesity and it looks like there’ll be many more to come.

  Sources: BBC News Health - Wall Street Journal Life and Culture - US World News/Health Day -
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