Genetic Underpinnings of Increased BMI and Its Association With Late Midlife Cognitive Abilities Journal Article uri icon



  • Objectives: First, we test for differences in various cognitive abilities across trajectories of body mass index (BMI) over the later life course. Second, we examine whether genetic risk factors for unhealthy BMIs—assessed via polygenic risk scores (PRS)—predict cognitive abilities in late-life. Methods: The study used a longitudinal sample of Vietnam veteran males to explore the associations between BMI trajectories, measured across four time points, and later cognitive abilities. The sample of 977 individuals was drawn from the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging. Cognitive abilities evaluated included executive function, abstract reasoning, episodic memory, processing speed, verbal fluency, and visual spatial ability. Multilevel linear regression models were used to estimate the associations between BMI trajectories and cognitive abilities. Then, BMI PRS was added to the models to evaluate polygenic associations with cognitive abilities. Results: There were no significant differences in cognitive ability between any of the BMI trajectory groups. There was a significant inverse relationship between BMI-PRS and several cognitive ability measures. Discussion: While no associations emerged for BMI trajectories and cognitive abilities at the phenotypic levels, BMI PRS measures did correlate with key cognitive domains. Our results suggest possible polygenic linkages cutting across key components of the central and peripheral nervous system.

publication date

  • January 1, 2020

has restriction

  • gold

Date in CU Experts

  • April 13, 2023 8:37 AM

Full Author List

  • Xian H; Boutwell B; Reynolds CA; Lew D; Logue M; Gustavson DE; Kavish N; Panizzon MS; Tu X; Toomey R

author count

  • 16

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2333-7214

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2333-7214

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 233372142092526

end page

  • 233372142092526


  • 6