Is Weight Loss a Sign of Alzheimer's Disease?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 23, 2012

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Is Weight Loss a Sign of Alzheimers Disease

According to a new study, people who are in early phase of dementia are likely to have lower body mass index (BMI) in comparison to people who don’t have dementia.


[Read: Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease]


Initially researchers found out an odd relationship pattern between body mass index and the Alzheimer’s disease. Over the past several years, middle aged overweight or obese people were thought to be at higher risk of developing diseases. Furthermore, older people with high body mass were believed to be at comparatively lower risk.

A new study published in the journal of Neurology offers a clue to the paradox of obesity. Results revealed that non-overweight people in their 60s, 70s and early 80s who didn’t showed no outward symptom of Alzheimer’s had the biological marker of the disease. Findings of the study suggest that lower body mass index and weight loss in later years of life are the possible signs of mental decline.



[Read: How can one Prevent Alzheimer's Disease]


Jeffery M. Burns, lead researcher of the study and associate director of University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Centre said that change in body composition and weight can be the manifestation of the disease. M. Burns continued saying that Alzheimer’s disease triggers metabolism changes this leads to weight loss. All this happens quite before the occurrence of actual symptoms (such as memory loss) of the disease.

Alzheimer's disease is popular as brain disease but there are evidences that there are related systemic problems as well. In the early stages of Alzheimer's these problems are related to entire body.

For the study, researchers analysed data from Alzheimer's disease Neuro-imaging Initiative (study that included 58 hospitals).


[Read: Can we Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?]



Researchers analysed:

  • 101 people who had brain scans for identifying Hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease such as plaque and abnormal protein tangle.
  • Another group of 405 patients was analysed for the fragmentation of protein such as beta-amyloid peptide and tau.

Both the groups included people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Some of the participants had mild cognitive impairment while some had no sign of mental deterioration.

Results didn’t show any connection between BMI and Alzheimer's biomarkers. Low BMI was associated with high biomarker and was more likely to have brain plaque and protein tangles. 85% of individuals who were non-overweight had mild cognitive impairment, and 48 % overweight or obese participants had signs of mild cognitive impairment. 

Results of the study only showed association between Body mass index and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore researchers can’t be sure whether Alzheimer’s directly cause weight loss. The cause and effect relation between the two still remain an area of investigation.


Read more articles on Alzheimers Signs and Symptoms.



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