Obesity has the potential to raise an older adult’s risk for having difficulty thinking and making decisions (also known as “cognitive decline” or dementia). It is a complex health concern. Body mass index (BMI) is a scale that measures a person’s weight in relationship to their height. Research shows that older adults who have an elevated BMI are at lower risk for dementia than people with lower BMIs.
However, BMI may not be the best measure for obesity’s effect on dementia. For example, signs such as carrying excess weight in the abdomen (also known as “belly fat”), and having a larger waist size, may better indicate whether a person is at higher risk for problems such as dementia.
Despite the fact that more African Americans are affected by obesity and dementia than other individuals, few studies have examined the link between obesity and dementia among African Americans. Recently, a team of researchers examined this link, and published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.