The risk of overweight/obesity in mid-life and late life for the development of dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies

Age Ageing. 2016 Jan;45(1):14-21. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv151.


Scope: it has been suggested that overweight/obesity as a risk factor for incident dementia differs between mid-life and later life. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the up-to-date current literature to assess this.

Search methods: inclusion criteria included epidemiological longitudinal studies published up to September 2014, in participants without cognitive impairment based on evidence of cognitive assessment and aged 30 or over at baseline assessment with at least 2 years of follow-up. Pubmed, Medline, EMBASE, PsychInfo and the Cochrane Library were searched using combinations of the search terms: Dementia, Alzheimer disease, Vascular Dementia, Multi-Infarct Dementia, Cognitive decline, Cognitive impairment, Mild Cognitive Impairment/Obesity, Overweight, Adiposity, Waist circumference (limits: humans, English language). Handsearching of all papers meeting the inclusion criteria was performed. A random-effects model was used for the meta-analysis.

Results: of the 1,612 abstracts identified and reviewed, 21 completely met the inclusion criteria. Being obese below the age of 65 years had a positive association on incident dementia with a risk ratio (RR) 1.41 (95% confidence interval, CI: 1.20-1.66), but the opposite was seen in those aged 65 and over, RR 0.83 (95% CI: 0.74-0.94).

Conclusions: this systematic review and meta-analysis suggests a positive association between obesity in mid-life and later dementia but the opposite in late life. Whether weight reduction in mid-life reduces risk is worthy of further study.

Keywords: aged; dementia; obesity; older people; overweight; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors