- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2018

Researchers said early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be determined from whether a person is “skinny-fat” — of a normal weight but with more fat than muscle.

Called sarcopenic obesity, researchers found that people with this condition performed poorly on cognitive function tests compared to two other groups — those who had obesity alone, or sarcopenia alone, which is the loss of muscle tissue as part of the aging process.

Sarcopenia was earlier linked to cognitive impairment, with people showing difficulty with memory, speed and executive functions, the lead author of the study, Dr. James E. Galvin, said in a statement. He is associate dean for clinical research and a professor of integrated medical science at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine.

Understanding how sarcopenia, obesity and “skinny-fat” impair cognitive function can help inform preventive efforts, he continued.

“… It may inform efforts to prevent cognitive decline in later life by targeting at-risk groups with an imbalance between lean and fat mass. They may benefit from programs addressing loss of cognitive function by maintaining and improving strength and preventing obesity,” Dr. Galvin said.

The latest research was published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging.

Researchers looked at data from aging and memory studies for 353 participants with the average age of 69. Participants had performed a number of cognitive and physical tests, including the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a leading screening technique for Alzheimer’s; grip strength and chair stands; and reports on body mass composition, among others.

The researchers found that while obesity and sarcopenia both effected markers for cognitive function, those who have sarcopenic obesity did worse. All three conditions should be monitored in the primary care setting, the researchers said.

“Sarcopenia either alone or in the presence of obesity, can be used in clinical practice to estimate potential risk of cognitive impairment,” co-author Magdalena I. Tolea, Ph.D., a research assistant professor of integrated medical science FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, said in a statement.

“Testing grip strength by dynamometry can be easily administered within the time constraints of a clinic visit, and body mass index is usually collected as part of annual wellness visits.”

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