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February 13th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Overeating may increase risk of memory loss

overeating

The more calories older people consumed, the more likely they were to have mild cognitive impairment.

Overeating may increase your risk of memory loss.  Older people who consumed more than 2,143 calories a day had more than double the risk of a type of memory loss called mild cognitive impairment compared to those who ate fewer than 1,500 calories a day, according to a study being released Sunday by the American Academy of Neurology on its website (aan.com).

The more calories older people consumed, the more likely they were to have mild cognitive impairment, says Yonas Geda, lead author of the study and a neuropsychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Other investigators from Australia have shown that excessive calorie intake is associated with a greater risk of mild cognitive impairment, he says.

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MCI is the condition between normal forgetfulness due to aging and early Alzheimer’s disease. People with MCI have problems with memory, language or thinking severe enough to be noticeable to other people and to show up on tests, but not serious enough to interfere with daily life, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. People are often aware of the forgetfulness.

Because the problems do not interfere with daily activities, the person does not meet criteria for being diagnosed with dementia. Not everyone diagnosed with MCI goes on to develop Alzheimer’s, the association says.

Geda and colleagues followed 1,233 people ages 70 to 90 in Olmsted County, Minn. The participants did not have dementia, but 163 had mild cognitive impairment. Researchers calculated their daily calorie intake based on food questionnaires. The researchers then divided the participants into three equal groups. The first group consumed 600 to 1,526 calories daily; a second between 1,526 calories and 2,142 calories and a third, more than 2,143.

The researchers did not control for diet quality in this analysis, but are looking at diet and exercise for future analysis.

Bottom line: The odds of having MCI more than doubled in the highest calorie group compared to the lowest calorie group, Geda says.

This is one study so “we have to be extremely careful about generalizations,” he says. “The first step is that we have to confirm this finding in a bigger study. Certainly, we are not recommending starvation or malnutrition.”

Neurologist Neelum Aggarwal, a member of the American Academy of Neurology, says these findings should encourage physicians and health care providers to start the discussion about the links between common healthy living practices, including eating a healthy diet, limiting sugar, to overall cognitive function, with their patients.

Via USA Today

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