Diabetes in middle age can "age the mind" by five years, potentially hastening the onset of dementia in later life, a study has shown.
More than three million people in the UK have diabetes and there is mounting evidence that the illness is linked to memory and thinking problems in old age.
In a new analysis of health data from nearly 16,000 people in the US, who have been followed since the 1980s, researchers saw direct links between the condition and cognitive decline.
They found that, on average, a 60-year-old with diabetes experienced a decline in their brain function that was on par with a 65-year-old without diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, is closely linked to being overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are among the best ways to prevent the illness.
The authors of the study, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland, said their research proved "that to have a healthy brain when you're 70, you need to eat right when you're 50".