Obesity and lack of exercise linked to cognitive impairment in women with lupus

Published on 01 March 2012
01 Mar: Obesity and lack of exercise linked to cognitive impairment in women with lupus

Women with the autoimmune disease lupus appear to be more likely to suffer from cognitive deficits if they are obese and lead an inactive lifestyle, new research suggests.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco recruited 138 women with lupus for their study, which aimed to investigate the links between physical inactivity, obesity and cognitive impairment.

Participants underwent tests to measure their body composition and provided information on their levels of physical activity.

They also completed tests to measure their cognitive function.

Publishing their findings in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, the study authors revealed that 50 per cent of the study participants were obese; 28 per cent were physically inactive; and 20 per cent were cognitively impaired.

Almost one in four (23 per cent) of inactive women were cognitively impaired, compared with just five per cent of active women.

Similarly, cognitive impairment was more common in obese women than non-obese women (23 per cent versus six per cent).

The study authors concluded: "Both obesity and inactivity were significantly and independently associated with impairment in cognitive function.

"If longitudinal studies show that physical inactivity and obesity are precursors to cognitive impairment, these may become important targets for intervention."

A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK said that the results of the study were interesting but not surprising. "Physical activity and exercise is important for people with all types of arthritis and related musculoskeletal conditions, in order to keep body and mind as well-functioning as possible," he added.