30-year study links childhood obesity and fitness to midlife cognition

Summary: Children with higher cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness and a lower waist-to-hip ratio scored higher on cognitive tests of attention and processing speed during midlife.

Font: monash university

The world’s first study on the impact of childhood fitness and obesity on cognition in midlife, followed more than 1,200 people who were children in 1985 for more than 30 years and found that better performance on physical tests it is linked to better cognition later in life and may protect against dementia later in life.

Importantly, these findings are not affected by academic ability and socioeconomic status in childhood, or by tobacco and alcohol use in midlife.

Led by Dr Jamie Tait and Associate Professor Michele Callisaya from the National Center for Healthy Aging, based at Peninsula Health and Monash University in Melbourne, along with researchers from the Menzies Institute’s Children’s Determinants of Adult Health study of Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, the landmark study is published today (TBC) in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

Children who develop muscular strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, and endurance due to sport and activity are known to have better health outcomes later in life. Higher fitness in adults is also associated with better cognition and a lower risk of dementia later in life.

Following more than 1,200 people from 1985, when they were between the ages of 7 and 15, through 2017-19, this is the first significant study looking for links between objectively measured fitness and obesity in childhood with cognition in midlife. , with the idea that early activity levels, physical fitness and metabolic health can protect against dementia in our old age.

In 1985, 1,244 participants aged 7 to 15 years in the Australian Childhood Determinants of Adult Health study were assessed for physical fitness (cardiorespiratory, muscular power, muscular endurance) and anthropometry (waist-hip ratio). .

These participants were followed between 2017 and 2019 (between 39 and 50 years old, average age 44) regarding their cognitive function using a series of computerized tests.

According to Associate Professor Callisaya, this is the first study to demonstrate a relationship between phenotypic profiles of objective measures of fitness and obesity in childhood with midlife cognition.

The researchers found that children with the highest levels of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness and a lower average waist-to-hip ratio had higher scores in midlife on tests of processing speed and attention, as well as global cognitive function. .

Importantly, these findings are not affected by academic ability and socioeconomic status in childhood, or by tobacco and alcohol use in midlife. The image is in the public domain

Because a decline in cognitive performance can begin as early as midlife, and lower midlife cognition has been associated with a higher likelihood of developing mild cognitive impairment and dementia in later life, Associate Professor Callisaya states that it is important to identify the factors at an early age. life that can protect against cognitive decline later in life.

“The development of strategies that improve poor physical fitness and decrease obesity levels in childhood is important because it could contribute to improving cognitive performance in midlife,” he said.

“Importantly, the study also indicates that protective strategies against future cognitive decline may need to start from early childhood, so that the brain can develop sufficient reserve against the development of conditions such as dementia in old age.”

The 1985 Australian Schools Health and Fitness Survey was a nationally representative sample of
8,498 Australian children aged 7-15 years.

Participants were followed up at three time points in 2004-06, 2009-11, and 2014-19 as part of the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health (CDAH) study, a prospective cohort study based on Survey participants.

Money: The study has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Heart Foundation.

About this research news on cognition and obesity

Author: Tanya Ewing
Font: monash university
Contact: Tania Ewing – Monash University
Image: The image is in the public domain.

original research: Closed access.
“Longitudinal Associations of Childhood Obesity and Fitness Profiles with Midlife Cognitive Function: An Australian Cohort Study” by Jamie Tait et al. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport

See also

This shows the outline of a head.

Summary

Longitudinal Associations of Childhood Obesity and Fitness Profiles with Midlife Cognitive Function: An Australian Cohort Study.

Objectives

Low fitness and high obesity groups in childhood are associated with worse health outcomes in adulthood, however their relationship with cognition is unknown. The identification of such profiles can inform strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline. This study examined whether childhood-specific fitness and obesity profiles were associated with midlife cognition.

Design

Prospective study.

Methods

In 1985, physical fitness (cardiorespiratory, muscular power, muscular endurance) and anthropometry (waist-hip ratio) were assessed in participants aged 7 to 15 years in the Australian Determinants of Adult Health in Childhood study. The participants were followed between 2017 and 2019 (between 39 and 50 years). The psychomotor speed-attention, learning-working memory, and global cognition composites were assessed using the CogState computerized battery.

Latent profile analysis was used to derive mutually exclusive profiles based on physical fitness and anthropometry. Linear regression analyzes examined associations between childhood profile membership and midlife cognition adjusting for age, gender, and educational level.

Results

1244 participants were included [age: 44.4 ± 2.6 (mean ± SD) years, 53% female]. Compared with those with the highest levels of physical fitness and the lowest waist-to-hip ratio, three different profiles characterized by poorer combinations of cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular endurance, and power were associated with lower psychomotor attention in midlife. [up to −1.09 (−1.92, −0.26) SD]and lower global cognition [up to −0.71 (−1.41, −0.01) SD]. No associations with learning-working memory were detected.

Conclusions

Strategies that improve poor fitness and decrease obesity levels in childhood could contribute to improved cognitive performance in midlife.

Leave a Comment