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Effect of late-life weight change on dementia incidence: a 10-year cohort study using claim data in Korea

Park S, Jeon SM, Jung SY, Hwang J, Kwon JW (2019) BMJ Open.  2019 May;9(5): e021739. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-021739. 

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The association between body mass index (BMI) in late-life and dementia risk remains unclear. We investigated the association between BMI changes over a 2-year period and dementia in an elderly Korean population.


We examined 67 219 participants aged 60-79 years who underwent BMI measurement in 2002/2003 and 2004/2005 as part of the National Health Insurance Service-Health Screening Cohort. Baseline characteristics including BMI, socioeconomic status and cardiometabolic risk factors were measured at baseline (2002/2003). The difference between BMI at baseline and at the next health screening (2004/2005) was used to calculate the BMI change. After 2 years, the incidence of dementia was monitored for a mean 5.3 years from 2008 to 2013. Multivariate HRs for dementia incidence were estimated on the basis of baseline BMI and its changes after adjusting for various other risk factors. A subgroup analysis was conducted to determine the effects of baseline BMI and BMI changes.


We demonstrated a significant association between late-life BMI changes and dementia in both sexes (men: >-10% HR=1.26, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.46, >+10% HR=1.25, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.45; women: >-10% HR=1.15, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.29, >+10% HR=1.17, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.31). However, the baseline BMI was not associated with dementia, except in underweight men. After stratification based on the baseline BMI, the BMI increase over 2 years was associated with dementia in men with a BMI of 2 and women with a BMI of 18.5-25 kg/m2, but not in the obese subgroup in either sex. However, BMI decrease was associated with dementia in those with a BMI of ≥18.5 kg/m2, but not in the underweight subgroup in either sex.


Both weight gain and weight loss may be significant risk factors associated with dementia. Continuous weight control and careful monitoring of weight changes are necessary to prevent dementia development.


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