The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.
Childhood obesity may signal dementia decades later, according to new research. Scientists say unhealthy weight and poor physical fitness during one’s youth increase the risk of cognitive decline in middle age.
The finding is based on more than 1,200 people tracked for over 30 years, starting when they were school-aged. The idea is that early activity levels, fitness, and metabolic health may protect against dementia in our older years.
“Developing strategies that improve low fitness and decrease obesity levels in childhood are important because it could contribute to improvements in cognitive performance in midlife,” says lead author Michele Callisaya, of Monash University in Australia, in a statement. “Importantly the study also indicates protective strategies against future cognitive decline may need to start as far back as early childhood, so the brain can develop sufficient reserve against developing conditions such as dementia in older life.”
The study is the first significant study to look for links between objectively-measured fitness and obesity in childhood with cognition in middle age. It began in 1985 when the 1,244 Australian participants were aged seven to 15. They were followed up between 2017 and 2019 by which time they were 39 to 50.
The research was published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.