The amount of belly fat a person has (the waist to hip ratio) is associated with reduced cognitive function in older adults, according to new research by Trinity College, Dublin.
Previous studies have found that people who are overweight do not perform as well on tests of memory and visuospatial ability compared to those who are a normal weight. However, it is not well known if this is true in older adults.
The researchers used data from the Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture ageing cohort study, which is a cross-border collaborative research project gathering data from thousands of elderly adults in Northern Ireland and Ireland.
The researchers found that a higher waist to hip ratio was associated with reduced cognitive function. This could be explained by an increased secretion of inflammatory markers by belly fat, which has been previously associated with a higher risk of impaired cognition.
On the contrary, body mass index (BMI) was found to protect cognitive function. BMI is a crude measure of body fat and cannot differentiate between fat and fat-free mass (muscle), thus it is proposed that the fat-free mass component is likely to be the protective factor.
Conal Cunningham, the study’s senior author, said: ‘While we have known for some time that obesity is associated with negative health consequences our study adds to emerging evidence suggesting that obesity and where we deposit our excess weight could influence our brain health. This has significant public health implications.’
This years MISA annual lecture was presented by Baroness Julia Neuberger and was held on June 28th in the Stanley Quek lecture theatre in Trinity College. Baroness Neuberger spoke about avoiding loneliness in older age. This lecture was well attended and positive feedback was received. To watch this lecture click here
Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing proudly presents its Annual Public Lecture 2018 entitled “Loneliness and how to avoid it in Successful Ageing” presented by Baroness Julia Neuberger on Thursday June 28th @ 6pm at the Stanley Quek Lecture Theatre, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Pearse Street, Dublin
Flyer can be downloaded here
Mary Ni Lochlainn is an Academic Clinical Fellow in Geriatric Medicine. She works at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Mary attended the Biogerontology for Clinicians Conference in February 2018 which was co-organised by MISA and TCD.
Read Mary’s interesting blog recently posted on the British Geriatric Society website:
Experts in planning and delivering care for older people honoured Professor Rose-Anne Kenny with its highest honour, the IGS Presidential medal, at the Irish Gerontological Society’s (IGS) annual scientific meeting in Wexford. This was awarded for her work on the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing and promoting interdisciplinary approaches to working with older people
On the 23rd of June, the Mercer’s Institute of Successful Ageing (MISA) building was named “Best Health Building” by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) at their 2017 Architecture Awards.
The awards celebrate the quality of work carried out by RIAI members in 2016 and highlight the contribution that architects make to society. The Awards, with 18 categories and 60 projects shortlisted, chose exemplary projects from across Ireland and from international projects in Hungary, Palestine, and Poland.
President Michael D. Higgins performed the official opening of Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing at St. James’s Hospital. In his address President Michael D. Higgins spoke of the opportunities as well as the challenges of ensuring that elderly citizens enjoy active and fulfilled lives.
“In a world where we can expect to see more and more people leading significantly longer lives, innovative and creative thought around the ageing process will become increasingly important.”
The President has spoken on many occasions of the importance of building a society which fully values its older citizens and which gives stronger voices to people often regarded primarily as passive recipients of services.
How long do you want to live? How do you want to live those years? And which is more important, a long life or a healthy life? Or could we possibly enjoy both health and longevity as medical science continues to make advances in our understanding of human life and death?
These fundamental questions are moving centre stage in Ireland as our society grows collectively older. After decades of rejoicing in our relative youth – remember our boasts about being the youngest people in Europe – we now have to grapple with the challenges posed by an increasingly older, and potentially dependent, population.
They are also at the heart of the work of Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing, an ambitious new project on the campus of St James’s Hospital which is being opened by the President Michael D Higgins, on Wednesday (December 7th).
The award was presented by it’s President, Prof Moira O’Brien at the Annual General Meeting of the Society which this year took place in Trinity College Dublin. Prof Walsh is also the Director of the Mercer’s Institute for Research on Ageing, consultant physician at the MedEL Directorate at St James’s and Clinical Professor, Department of Medical Gerontology in TCD. He received the award in recognition of his “outstanding work and commitment to the area of osteoporosis” at the Irish Osteoporosis Society Annual Medical Conference, which took place in TCD last month.
The Mercer’s Institute for Research on Ageing has taken a lead role as a regional and national referral centre for the treatment of, and research into, severe osteoporosis and complex bone disease.
Prof Walsh’s original research on vitamin D led to the use of Vitamin D supplementation in milk in Ireland and the development of Supermilk in a joint project with Premier Dairies (now Avonmore -Glanbia).
Prof Walsh’s other research interests include Memory, Hypertension, Stroke, Clostridium difficile, Pneumonia and Incontinence in the elderly.