Body mass index and cognitive function: Birth cohort effects in young men

Vera Ehrenstein*, Anna Marie Bloch Münster, Arnold Milstein, Nancy E. Adler, Henrik Toft Sørensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Objective Body mass index (BMI) and intelligence quotient (IQ) are associated. We examined whether this association varied by birth cohort. Methods Among 37,414 Danish conscripts, the association between BMI and IQ overall and by birth cohort was examined. IQ was measured by the Børge Prien's Prøve (BPP) group intelligence test score. Results Compared with men of normal BMI, mean differences (95% CI [confidence interval]) in BPP score were -0.6 (-1.1;-0.1) for underweight men; -0.8 (-1.1;-0.5) for overweight men; and -2.0 (-2.4;-1.5) for men with obesity. Crude prevalence ratios (95% CI) for low cognitive scores associated with obesity were, respectively, 1.52 (1.24; 1.85), 1.64 (1.32; 2.04), 1.56 (1.38; 1.76), and 1.35 (1.18; 1.54) among men born in 1955, 1965-1969, 1970-1979, and 1980-1984. Confounding by familial BMI or IQ could not be controlled. Conclusions The association between BMI and IQ is subject to secular trends.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)931-934
Publication statusPublished - 1. May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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