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People with poor metabolic health are more likely to have memory and thinking problems and worse brain health, according to a new study by researchers at Nuffield Department of Population Health. The study is published in Diabetes Care, and is the largest study into metabolic and brain health to date

brain MRI © Shutterstock/Oliver Sved

Poor metabolic health, also known as “metabolic syndrome”, is defined as having three or more of the following: a large waist circumference, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, sometimes known as ‘good’ cholesterol. Globally, one in four adults live with metabolic syndrome.

Previous studies have shown that having poor metabolic health could increase the risk of developing dementia, but it was unclear whether it is linked to worse brain health even in people who do not have dementia. Maintaining both brain structure and cognitive abilities are crucial for healthy ageing as the loss of both can negatively impact brain health and might indicate progression towards dementia.

The researchers investigated whether having poor metabolic health affected brain volume and cognitive abilities by analysing results from 37,395 UK Biobank participants who did not have dementia; 7,945 of the participants had poor metabolic health when they joined the UK Biobank study.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website.