(HealthDay News) — For individuals who are metabolically abnormal, increasing body mass index (BMI) correlates with faster cognitive decline, according to a study published in the Aug. 21 issue of Neurology.

Archana Singh-Manoux, Ph.D., from the Hôpital Paul Brousse in Villejuif, France, and colleagues used BMI and metabolic status data from 6,401 adults (71.2 percent men), aged 39 to 63 years in 1991 to 1993, to examine their association with cognitive function and decline. Cognitive tests were administered in 1997 to 1999, 2002 to 2004, and 2007 to 2009.

The researchers found that 31 percent of the participants had metabolic abnormalities, and 52.7, 38.2, and 9.1 percent, respectively, were normal weight, overweight, or obese. The global cognitive score at baseline and the 10-year cognitive decline were similar for metabolically normal and abnormal obese individuals. In metabolically normal participants, over 10 years, the decline in cognitive score was similar for normal-weight, overweight, and obese individuals (P for trend = 0.36). However, the decline in cognition was faster among obese versus normal-weight metabolically abnormal individuals (P = 0.03).

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“In these analyses, the fastest cognitive decline was observed in those with both obesity and metabolic abnormality,” the authors write. “Given the rapid increase in obesity levels globally, it is important to estimate its impact on health from a public health point of view.”

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