The relationship between obesity and cognitive function is becoming clearer. Mid-life obesity has been cited as a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia in later life and this risk is reported to be independent of comorbidities. Obesity is however, associated with many comorbidities known to adversely impact cognitive function such as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, and insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes has been associated with impairments across a wide range of cognitive domains. Studies in impaired glucose tolerance suggest that pre-diabetes affects some cognitive domains. However, it is difficult to untangle these relationships. Sub-clinical or pre-disease states including metabolic disturbances (insulin resistance, raised serum lipids, and cholesterol) or vascular function (elevated blood pressure) are cerebrovascular risk factors and evidence from MRI studies indicates that asymptomatic cerebrovascular brain injury is common, often starting in midlife due to uncontrolled CVD risk factors.
This presentation examines the interrelationship between obesity, impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes in terms of cognitive function. It will consider the potential impact of nutritional interventions in reducing the cognitive consequences of these increasingly prevalent conditions in the ageing western population.