(HealthDay News) – Physical inactivity and obesity are associated with impaired cognitive function, especially executive functions, in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), according to research published online Feb. 15 in Arthritis Care & Research.

To evaluate whether obesity and physical inactivity are related to cognitive impairment in women with SLE, Patricia Katz, PhD, of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 138 women with SLE who underwent dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to determine body composition.

The researchers found that, of the women, 28% were physically inactive, 50% were obese, and 20% were cognitively impaired. Cognitive impairment, as assessed on the executive function battery, was more common in inactive women compared with active women (23% vs. 5%; P=0.003). Women who were obese were more likely to show overall cognitive impairment (23% vs. 6%) as well as impairment on the executive function portions of the cognitive test (19% vs. 2%), compared to women who were not obese. Overall, women with SLE who were physically inactive and obese were significantly more likely to display impaired cognitive executive function (odds ratios: inactivity, 9.4, and obesity, 14.8).

“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,” the authors write.

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