If you’re still looking for a reason to shed those last few pounds, this may be it.
According to new research, your weight in middle age won’t just determine whether or not you develop Alzheimer’s disease later on in life. In fact, how much you weigh could actually affect when you develop the disease, as well.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that people who are overweight or obese at age 50 who end up developing Alzheimer’s do so at an earlier age than people who maintain a healthy weight, Business Insiderreported on Sept. 2.
“Maintaining a healthy BMI at midlife is likely to have long-lasting protective effects,” said Dr. Madhav Thambisetty of NIH’s National Institute on Aging, lead author of the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
While further research is needed to definitively state that staying trim at middle age can prolong the onset of Alzheimer’s, it certainly won’t hurt for people to do so.
Studies have shown that obesity alone costs Americans a staggering $190.2 billion per year in healthcare costs — almost 21% of all medical spending in the country. Combined with the costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease — which have been projected to reach levels between $379 billion and $500 billion per year by 2040 –and the costs of obesity become truly astounding.
Currently, five million U.S. adults suffer from Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease that primarily impacts the brain’s memory function. By 2050, this figure is expected to more than double.
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And Alzheimer’s disease can quietly cause devastation within the brain for up to a decade before symptoms manifest themselves. The disease has no known cure, which is why researchers have turned to finding ways to prevent, or at least delay, Alzheimer’s.
But while the NIH’s research offers a potential breakthrough in keeping Alzheimer’s at bay, it is ultimately up to the patients themselves to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime throughout middle age.