Big meals correlate with "mild cognitive impairment" in the elderly. I am glad to see that there is some humility below in interpreting the correlation concerned. I would suspect that the "mild cognitive impairment" is nothing more than low IQ and that class is again the mediator. Lower class people eat more and have lower IQ. I also note that food intake appears to have been judged from a dietary questionnaire -- which is pretty low grade data that may have a very shaky link to reality

A link between memory loss and a high calorie diet has been suggested by researchers in the US. They were investigating mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can be an early sign of dementia.

Research, presented at a conference, claimed a high calorie diet was linked to having twice the risk of MCI, compared with a low calorie diet.

Alzheimer's Research UK said a healthy lifestyle was known to help protect against dementia.

Mild cognitive impairment has become increasingly interesting to researchers as it may help predict who will go on to develop dementia, such as Alzheimer's.

A team at the Mayo Clinic in the US has investigated the effect of diet in 1,233 people aged between 70 and 89. None had dementia, but 163 were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.

The patients were divided into low calorie intake (600 to 1,526 calories a day), middle (1,526 to 2,142.5) and high (2,142.5 to 6,000) and the incidence of mild cognitive impairment was compared.

The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. They showed no difference in the low and middle groups, however, the high intake group had more than double the incidence of MCI.

Researcher Dr Yonas Geda said: "We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI."

The study cannot say that a high calorie diet causes MCI, people who are cognitively impaired could end up eating more food or there could be another factor involved which increases the risk of both. It has also not yet been published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

But Dr Geda did suggest there was potential for therapy: "Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age."

Dr Marie Janson, from Alzheimer's Research UK, said the findings were interesting, and fitted in with "the bigger picture of a healthy lifestyle preventing Alzheimer's in later life".

She said it was "difficult" to work out what a mechanism linking calories and cognitive impairment would be. But she added: "We know that age is one of the greatest risk factors for dementia, but adopting a healthy lifestyle including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is beneficial in protecting against dementia along with a number of other chronic diseases."


1 comment:

  1. Not sure about the results of that lot, but in my experience of dealing with elderly relatives, including my parents, many older folk seem to eat less and less as time goes on.

    What this does to their bodies is quite obvious. what it does to their brains is also apparent to those close to them.

    There are some other interesting things I noticed over the years.

    My dad was a motor mechanic and thus regularly cleaning engine parts. He ALWAYS use "standard" fuel for this (in the days before sexy and expensive dedicated solvents). Dad was wary of the human body's ability to absorb tetra-ethyl lead in "super /premium" fuel. Some of his colleagues were less cautious of this and and least two ended up with symptoms of lead poisoning. How many others, especially older ones, were misdiagnosed over the years.

    Dad also copped a good dose of Malaria in WW2. This afflicted him for the rest of his life, though Alzheimer's eventually became his prime complaint.

    I recall that there was some British? research looking into a link between the damage caused by Malaria and the onset of Alzheimer's. Causation, correlation or enabling precursor?

    I also strongly suspect that the brain is like the rest of the body, especially regarding "condition": "Use it or lose it".


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