A surprisingly common condition has been linked to dementia


Neuroscience Brain Mapping Confusion Dementia

Participants with sarcopenic obesity had the highest rates of mild cognitive impairment and dementia, followed by sarcopenia, obesity and finally the control group.

Scientists have linked dementia in the elderly with an unexpected candidate: sarcopenic obesity

More than 15% of Japanese adults over the age of 65 suffer from dementia, a serious medical condition. Dementia is known to drastically reduce the quality of life of older adults because the condition impairs their memory, thinking and social skills.

Obesity, on the other hand, has become an increasingly common lifestyle disease. It often occurs with poor muscle mass, a condition called sarcopenic obesity, which is assessed by body mass index (BMI) and handgrip strength. Surprisingly, this condition is known to increase the risk of cognitive impairment. This made scientists wonder, does this relationship hold true for dementia as well?

Sarcopene Obesity Dementia Graphic

Sarcopenic obesity is independently associated with MCI and dementia in Japanese older adults. Credit: Juntendo University

Researchers from Juntendo University in Japan, led by Dr. Yoshifumi Tamura, answered this question in a recent study published in Clinical Nutrition. dr. Tamura emphasizes the importance of their work, saying, “Once the link between sarcopenic obesity and dementia has been established, appropriate preventive measures can be taken to reduce the occurrence of this condition and the risk of dementia in elderly patients.”

The study involved 1,615 elderly Japanese aged 65 to 84 who participated in the Bunkyo Health Study. According to the individuals’ sarcopenia and obesity status, the researchers divided the participants into four groups: those with obesity, those with sarcopenia, those with sarcopenic obesity, and those without obesity or sarcopenia (control). They then examined the relationship between sarcopenia, obesity and various mental functions.

Handgrip strength of less than 28 kg for males and 18 kg for females indicated sarcopenia or poor muscle strength, while individuals with a BMI greater than 25 kg/m2 were classified as obese. To determine whether dementia and moderate cognitive impairment (MCI) existed, two assessment techniques were used. MCI and dementia were determined by a score of less than 22 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and less than 23 on the Mine-Mental State Examination, respectively.

Sarcopenia and Obesity Chart

In a brand new study, researchers from Japan have shown how comorbidity with sarcopenia and obesity is linked to cognitive impairment in older Japanese. Credit: Juntendo University

They found that 59.4% of the population was not obese or sarcopenic, 21.2% obese, 14.6% sarcopenia and 4.7% of the population sarcopenic obesity. The participants with sarcopenic obesity had the highest rates of MCI and dementia, followed by those with sarcopenia, obesity and finally the control group.

When the team performed multivariate analyzes to check for statistically relevant associations, they found that sarcopenic obesity was independently associated with an increased prevalence of MCI and dementia compared to the absence of sarcopenia and obesity. The study also found that sarcopenia is significantly associated with dementia in women, but not in men.

“This study clearly demonstrates that sarcopenic obesity, defined by the combination of BMI and handgrip strength, is associated with MCI and dementia in elderly Japanese,” said Dr. Tamura.

But what are the long-term implications of this research?

dr. Tamura’s answer to this question is encouraging. “Because we now know that there is a strong correlation between sarcopenic obesity and dementia, we can develop new treatment approaches to manage the condition, even reducing the prevalence of dementia.”

Credit: “Sarcopenic obesity is associated with cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older adults: The Bunkyo Health Study” by Yuki Someya, Yoshifumi Tamura, Hideyoshi Kaga, Daisuke Sugimoto, Satoshi Kadowaki, Ruriko Suzuki, Shigeki Aoki, Nobutaka Hattori, Yumiko Motoi, Kazunori Shimada , Hiroyuki Daida, Muneaki Ishijima, Kazuo Kaneko, Shuko Nojiri, Ryuzo Kawamori and Hirotaka Watada, March 16, 2022, Clinical Nutrition
DOI: 10.116/j.clnu.2022.03.017

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