Cognitive Decline, Body Mass Index, and Waist Circumference in Community-Dwelling Elderly Participants: Results From a Nationally Representative Sample

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The aim of this study was to explore the association of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and BMI and WC changes over time with cognitive decline in a nationally representative sample.


A total of 5239 participants (≥65 years) were followed for 3 years as part of the National Health and Aging Trends Study. Cox proportional hazard regression was applied to model the risk of cognitive decline.


BMI, after adjusting for WC and main confounders, was associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline (hazard ratio [HR] 0.97 for each unit BMI increase, 0.95-0.99). After stratifying by gender and age, this effect remained significant among females and young elders ≤80 years. A BMI decrease and WC increase >10% over the study period were associated with increased risk of cognitive decline (HR 1.98, 1.16-3.38; HR 1.30, 1.04-1.62, respectively).


In the elderly individuals, lean mass, as measured by BMI adjusted for WC, was associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline. Loss of lean mass and gain of fat mass, as measured by WC adjusted for BMI, were associated with elevated risk of cognitive decline.

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