Updated 03/22/2011 11:09 AM
Health Works: Obesity and dementia
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As baby boomers enter retirement, researchers at the University of Texas are studying health problems that come with old age.
Since obesity is a big issue in the United States, Dr. Andreana Haley is studying brain activity in overweight people.
Studies are now showing a correlation between obesity and dementia.
"Studying and preserving cognition is an extremely important public health issue,” UT professor Andreana Haley said. “Especially as the demographic in the United States is changing and the population is aging."
Haley said there is a lot of research about obesity and late life effects such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but they still need more to learn about early effects.
"We are trying to reverse what I like to label as 'early brain venerability' in people we have detected have larger body mass index, pre-clinical diabetes or pre-clinical hypertension," she said.
In order to understand these changes, Dr. Haley and her team conduct a series of non-invasive tests on patients to examine their brain activity.
"We have not put enough attention to understanding that changes in glucose metabolism and changes in your blood pressure very early in life can trigger cascades that can turn into degenerative problems and dementia," she said.
Andreana Haley is looking for more patients to be involved in her research. Click here for more information.