BMI Linked to Poorer Cognitive Function in Older Women

Findings seen in women with smaller waist-hip ratio; with highest ratio, scores increased with BMI
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- Among postmenopausal women, higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with poorer cognitive function in those with a smaller waist-to-hip ratio, according to research published online July 14 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Diana R. Kerwin, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 8,745 postmenopausal women, aged 65 to 79 years, in the Women's Health Initiative hormone trials. Participants, who had no clinical evidence of dementia, completed the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination (3MSE) and underwent assessment of height, weight, and body circumference.

The researchers found that higher BMI was related to lower 3MSE scores. With each one-unit increase in BMI, 3MSE decreased 0.988 after adjustment for age, education, and vascular disease risk factors. BMI category had the most pronounced association with worse cognitive scores in women with smaller waist measurements. In women in the highest waist-to-hip quartile, scores increased with increasing BMI categories.

"BMI category and waist-hip ratio appear to be important factors in complex associations between obesity and cognitive function in older women. These findings suggest that central adiposity, estimated by higher waist-to-hip ratios, is somehow associated with higher cognitive function scores in older, postmenopausal women. These findings do not negate other research demonstrating that obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases, including those such as hypertension and diabetes which have been found to increase dementia risk," the authors conclude.

Two co-authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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