Potential link found between high calorie diet & memory loss
Researchers have identified a potential link between a high calorie diet and memory loss in the elderly.
The team, from the Mayo Clinic in the US, were investigating mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can be an early sign of dementia. They looked at the effect of diet in 1,233 people aged between 70 and 89. Although none had dementia, 163 were diagnosed with MCI. 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 MCI was then compared.
The results, which were presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, showed no difference in the low and middle groups, but almost double the incidence of MCI in the high group. Researcher Dr Yonas Geda explains: “We observed a dose-response pattern, which simply means the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI. [Therefore] cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a [simple] way to prevent memory loss as we age.”
Whilst the research seems to suggest that a high calorie diet causes twice the risk of MCI, the researchers have stressed that people who are cognitively impaired could end up eating more food, or there could be another factor involved which increases the risk of both, so further research is necessary. The findings are also yet to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.
However, these results are still of interest because MCI may potentially help predict who will go on to develop dementia, or related conditions such as Alzheimer’s. 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. 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.”
Source – BBC News 13 Feb 12