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Childhood Obesity and Fitness Linked to Midlife Cognition

Childhood Obesity and Fitness Linked to Midlife Cognition


Children with higher cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness have higher cognitive test scores for attention and processing speed during middle age new study finds.

The world’s first study of the impact of childhood fitness and obesity on cognition in middle age, followed over 1200 people who were children in 1985 for over 30 years, has found that better performance on physical tests is related to better cognition later in life and may protect against dementia in later years.

Importantly, these findings are not impacted by academic ability and socioeconomic status at childhood, or by smoking, or alcohol consumption during midlife. Children who develop adequate muscular strength, cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance from engaging in physical activities saw better health outcomes later in life. Higher adult fitness was also associated with better cognition and reduced risk of dementia later in life.

The researchers were following over 1200 people (from 1985) when the children were between 7 and 15 years old. The participants were followed all the way to 2017-19. This is the first study to look for links between objectively measured fitness and obesity in childhood with cognition in middle age, with the idea that early physical activity levels, fitness and metabolic health may protect against dementia as we age.

News report can be found here.

Original scientific article can be found here.

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