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The Obesity-Dementia Link

Obesity has been linked with more than 50 diseases, including memory loss, uterine or endometrial cancer, and diabetes. While a commonly held belief is that everyone gets fat with age, obesity rarely, if ever, just “is”; it doesn’t drop in out of a vacuum. Rather, obesity almost always reflects one’s lifestyle choices.

People who are overweight and have high amounts of belly fat are more than three times as likely to develop memory loss and dementia later in life. A study by researchers at Rush University in Chicago, Illinois, which was published in the journal Cell Reports, indicates that the liver uses a protein known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPAR-alpha)—and the brain’s hippocampus, which plays a role in memory and learning, also needs PPAR-alpha.

So when the liver gets low on PPAR-alpha, it has to turn to other parts of the body to find more—including the brain. This starves the hippocampus of the PPAR-alpha it needs to function properly.

More research is needed to find a way to maintain normal PPAR-alpha levels in the brain to prevent memory loss. In the meantime, it’s worth the effort to maintain an optimum weight. Memory loss and dementia aren’t fun for anyone—both those who have it and their loved ones!

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