Changes in Body Mass Index and Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment Among African American Older Adults

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2024 Mar 1;79(3):glad263. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glad263.


Background: Previous research suggests a decline in body mass index (BMI) among older adults is associated with negative health outcomes, including mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and incident dementia. However, no studies have examined the effects of education or developing MCI on BMI trajectories over time. The purpose of this investigation was to characterize trajectories of change in BMI among older adults who develop MCI.

Methods: Participants were from the Minority Aging Research Study (MARS), a longitudinal cohort study of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease in older African Americans living in the greater Chicago, Illinois, area. The study included annual clinical evaluations of cognitive status, as well as measurements of height and weight for BMI calculation. Older African American participants without cognitive impairment at baseline were included in the present analysis (N = 436, 78% women, mean baseline age = 72 [SD = 5.7], mean education = 15 [SD = 3.5]).

Results: In piecewise linear mixed-effects models that included a random intercept and 2 random slopes, BMI declined over time (B = -0.20, SE = 0.02, p < .001), with a faster decline after MCI diagnosis (additional decline, B = -0.15, SE = 0.06, p = .019). Older age was associated with lower baseline BMI (B = -0.19, SE = 0.05, p < .001), as was higher education (B = -0.34, SE = 0.09, p < .001). Further, higher education was associated with a slower decline in BMI before MCI (B = 0.02, SE = 0.006, p = .001), but a faster decline after MCI (B = -0.06, SE = 0.022, p = .003).

Conclusions: These results suggest an accelerated decline in BMI following an MCI diagnosis, with higher education related to an even faster BMI decline.

Keywords: Cognitive aging; Obesity; Resilience.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Black or African American
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / epidemiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male