December 10th, 2009
01:48 PM ET

Is there a link between obesity and Alzheimer's?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Cyrus in Pittsburgh:

“Can obesity be linked to Alzheimer's disease? And can physical activity help ward off the disease?”


There are two important questions here. The quick answer, of course, is yes. But obesity, as you might imagine, is just one part of the whole puzzle. First, most things that are bad for your heart are often bad for your brain as well. That’s one way to think about it. You see, it's all about blood flow. So what impedes or affects blood flow to the heart is generally going to cause the same in the brain. Elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol all affect blood flow and all increase your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life.

The good news, to the second part of your question, is we know a lot about what we can do to prevent or delay the onset of this disease. Being physically active has been shown to improve mental function and to keep your brain healthier as you age. It's also essential for maintaining good blood flow and encouraging the growth of new brain cells. Studies show exercise that raises your heart rate for a minimum of 30 minutes several times a week seems to be the key. And exercise does so much more: It significantly reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. So stay active to keep your body and brain healthy for those later years.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Naphtal

    I'm goin 2 tell a friend in need..this is just what i wanted 2 hear.thanks 4 the enlightment..

    December 24, 2009 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Baba

    Thanks for making me know
    the importance of exercise to our health.

    December 27, 2009 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Brooklyn Evans

    more people are becoming obese these days because of too much junk food and too much sugar in snacks and fast foods. *

    April 28, 2010 at 04:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Peter

    There has been some serious research using resveratrol as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. I lost a family member 12 months ago and since then have researched many alternative treatments. With so many people looking and mini breakthroughs being published all over the world I think we are all confident a cure or prevention will be found soon.

    July 29, 2010 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Chelsey Celentano

    Night talk with my friends has replaced reading books and blogs. This makes it much more happy and satisfied.

    March 9, 2012 at 05:19 | Report abuse | Reply

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.