Overeating Linked to Memory Loss in Elderly
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Alvin B. Lin, MD, FAAFP
Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine, University of Nevada School of Medicine
Adjunct Professor of Family Medicine and Geriatrics, Touro University Nevada College of Medicine
Advisory Medical Director, Infinity Hospice Care
Medical Director, Lions HealthFirst Foundation
Dr. Lin maintains a small private practice in Las Vegas, NV. The posts represent the views of Dr. Lin, and in no way are to be construed as representative of the above listed organizations. Dr. Lin blogs about current medical literature and news at http://alvinblin.blogspot.com/.
I'm sure you heard some variation of "too much of a good thing isn't". It turns out they may have been referring to caloric intake, at least with regards to cognitive function. In a population-based case-control study presented over the weekend at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting, the authors analyzed 1233 non-demented elderly from 70 to 89 years old, of whom 163 cases had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with the remaining 1070 controls being cognitively intact, and compared their nutrition.
The study participants were broken down into three groups: those consuming fewer than 1526 kcal per day; those consuming between 1526 and 2,142 kcal per day; and those consuming more than 2142 kcal per day. Interestingly, some managed to get by on as little as 600 kcal per day while others required 6000 kcal per day! After taking into account the usual suspects (eg age, sex, education, depression, APOE status, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and body mass index) those who consumed the most calories were more than twice as likely to have MCI.
Now, based upon this meeting abstract, you shouldn't plan to cut your caloric intake in half hoping to decrease your risk for MCI and presumably dementia. Remember that a case-control study such as this only demonstrates an association, which is only good for developing hypotheses. This case-control study cannot demonstrate cause & effect. Perhaps there was another common denominator that led to the increase MCI risk. But it certainly gives us food for thought. In the meantime, step away from the brownies!