Longitudinal examination of obesity and cognitive function: results from the Baltimore longitudinal study of aging

Neuroepidemiology. 2010;34(4):222-9. doi: 10.1159/000297742. Epub 2010 Mar 18.


Background: Obesity indices (i.e. BMI, waist-to-hip ratio) show differential relationships to other health outcomes, though their association to neurocognitive outcome is unclear.

Methods: We examined whether central obesity would be more closely associated with cognitive function in 1,703 participants from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.

Results: Longitudinal mixed-effects regression models showed multiple obesity indices were associated with poorer performance in a variety of cognitive domains, including global screening measures, memory, and verbal fluency tasks. Obesity was associated with better performance on tests of attention and visuospatial ability. An obesity index by age interaction emerged in multiple domains, including memory and attention/executive function.

Conclusion: Obesity indices showed similar associations to cognitive function, and further work is needed to clarify the physiological mechanisms that link obesity to poor neurocognitive outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Baltimore
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Waist-Hip Ratio