A new study found that mid-life weight gain not only boosts your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but can also speed the onset of Alzheimer’s. This study was conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and recently published on September 1, 2015 in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry.

Previous studies had shown that obesity can put you at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. These studies found that obese people actually have less brain tissue than people with a healthy weight. One hypothesis is that the human brain shrinks as the body increases fat deposits.  The exact causal relationship is unknown.

The newer study shows that being overweight or obese can actually put you at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s earlier. This research was done with 1,400 participants over 14 years. The researchers gave the participants a cognitive test every year and tracked their BMI. Of those 1400 participants, 142 of them developed Alzheimer’s.  After investigating further, they realized that the BMI seemed to predict how soon the disease would strike. They found that a 50 year old person with a BMI of 30 would get Alzheimer’s disease a year earlier than a similar person with a BMI of 28.

This research does not prove that being overweight is the main cause of the disease, but it appears to show a strong relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and being overweight or obese. Obesity has also been linked to several other health issues, so it is prudent to exercise and eat healthy and control weight gain.  The study shows that you can do something to keep your brain and your heart healthy.