For so long the science, health, medical and beauty industry has been focussed on telling us that we can’t just be “us” – we have to be skinnier, leaner, healthier versions of ourselves. Well, the latest research has found some very good news for anyone who’s got a little extra around the middle and some love handles…
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have analysed medical records of just under two million people across ten years and have identified a link between those slightly overweight and a lower dementia risk.
They found that those with a slightly overweight Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 25 and 29 had an 18 per cent lower risk of dementia compared to those with a healthy BMI (18 to 24).
Something even more unusual is that those who were obese (BMI of 30+) had even better odds at avoiding dementia and were 24% less likely to develop the disease.
In contrast, those who were underweight (BMI under 18) had increased dementia risk by 39 per cent.
Dr Nawab Qizilbash, a clinical epidemiologist and the lead researcher, called the results a “surprise”, but said it was no excuse to pile on the pounds.
Ultimately, something else that is a direct result of obesity could kill you before you get the chance to even face off with dementia given the increased risk of heart disease with weight increases. So it’s best to stick to the balanced diet, balanced lifestyle rule.
But it does give anyone who’s a little on the comfortable side some happiness knowing that even if the knees have gone, the brain will stay sharp for many years to come!
Tell us, are you actively trying to lose weight, gain way or keep your weight steady at the moment?
The five things that can reduce your dementia risk by one third are:
1. Get regular exercise – gentle to moderate exercise daily is recommended, scientists claim up to 150 minutes per week is ideal.
2. Do not smoke. Smokers are healthiest if they quite at 40 – studies suggest this can maintain an additional 10 years of life.
3. Maintain a healthy bodyweight – don’t settle being “overweight”, we should be in our healthy range.
4. Eat a Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is high in fish, nuts, whole grains and ‘healthy’ fats such as those in olive oil, while low in red meat and dairy products. Studies suggest three to five or more portions of fruit and vegetables with fat making up less than 30 per cent of calories.
5. A Low or moderate alcohol consumption. This is classified as three or fewer units per day for men, two or fewer for women, with abstinence not treated as a healthy behaviour. A small 125ml glass of wine contains 1.3 units, while a pint of beer contains at least two units.