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PLoS One. 2016 Feb 11;11(2):e0148908. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148908. eCollection 2016.

Body Mass Index and Decline of Cognitive Function.

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Takemi Program in International Health, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
Department of Family Medicine & Department of Biomedical Sciences, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.



The association between body mass index (BMI) and cognitive function is a public health issue. This study investigated the relationship between obesity and cognitive impairment which was assessed by the Korean version of the Mini-mental state examination (K-MMSE) among mid- and old-aged people in South Korea.


A cohort of 5,125 adults, age 45 or older with normal cognitive function (K-MMSE≥24) at baseline (2006), was derived from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA) 2006~2012. The association between baseline BMI and risk of cognitive impairment was assessed using multiple logistic regression models. We also assessed baseline BMI and change of cognitive function over the 6-year follow-up using multiple linear regressions.


During the follow-up, 358 cases of severe cognitive impairment were identified. Those with baseline BMI≥25 kg/m2 than normal-weight (18.5≤BMI<23 kg/m2) were marginally less likely to experience the development of severe cognitive impairment (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.52 to 1.03; Ptrend = 0.03). This relationship was stronger among female (aOR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.40 to 1.00; Ptrend = 0.01) and participants with low-normal K-MMSE score (MMSE: 24-26) at baseline (aOR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.98; Ptrend<0.01). In addition, a slower decline of cognitive function was observed in obese individuals than those with normal weight, especially among women and those with low-normal K-MMSE score at baseline.


In this nationally representative study, we found that obesity was associated with lower risk of cognitive decline among mid- and old-age population.

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