Cognitive effects of intentional weight loss in elderly obese individuals with mild cognitive impairment

Cognitive effects of intentional weight loss in elderly obese individuals with mild cognitive impairment

Address all correspondence and requests for reprints to: Dr.Nidia Celeste Horie Ph.D.

Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo – Endocrinology R Dr Ené as de Carvalho Aguiar, 155 8andar, Endocrinologia Sao Paulo SP BRAZIL 05403–000 55–011–99640 6475


Received: May 17, 2015
Accepted: December 11, 2015
First Published Online: December 29, 2015



Obesity in midlife is a risk factor for dementia, but it is unknown if caloric restriction-induced weight loss could prevent cognitive decline and therefore dementia in elderly patients with cognitive impairment.


To evaluate the cognitive effect of intentional weight loss in obese elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), considering the influence of age, apolipoprotein E genotype (APOE), physical activity, biochemical markers and diet.


Single-center, prospective controlled trial.


Academic medical center


Eighty obese patients with MCI, aged 60 or older (68.1±4.9 years, body mass index (BMI) 35.5±4.4kg/m2, 83.7% women, 26.3% APOE4 carriers).


Random allocation to conventional medical care alone (n=40) or together with nutritional counselling (n=40) in group meetings aiming to promote weight loss through caloric restriction for 12 months.


Measurements: Clinical data, body composition, neuropsychological tests (main outcome), serum biomarkers, APOE genotype, physical performance, dietary recalls.


Seventy-five patients completed the follow-up. BMI, on average, decreased 1.7 ±1.8kg/m2 (p=0.021), and most of the cognitive tests improved, without difference between the groups. In analysis with linear generalized models, the BMI decrease was associated with improvements in verbal memory, verbal fluency, executive function and global cognition, after adjustment for education, gender, physical activity and baseline tests: this association was strongest in younger seniors (for memory and fluency) and in APOE4 carriers (for executive function). Changes in HOMA-IR, C-reactive protein, leptin and intake of energy, carbohydrates and fats were associated with improvement in cognitive tests.


Intentional weight loss through diet was associated with cognitive improvement in patients with MCI.

  • 1Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome Group- Sao Paulo University, School of Medicine;
  • 2Psychology Division- Hospital das Clínicas, Sao Paulo University;
  • 3Institute of Psychiatry – Sao Paulo University, School of Medicine;
  • 4Nutrition Division- Clinical Hospital – Sao Paulo University, School of Medicine;
  • 5Discipline of Geriatrics – Sao Paulo University, School of Medicine;
  • 6Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergy- Sao Paulo University, School of Medicine

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