1. At 8 years follow-up, a higher percentage of daily caloric intake from ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) was associated with quicker global cognitive decline and executive function decline, but not associated with memory decline.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

While dementia is a leading cause of disability worldwide, the paucity of treatments available turns the focus to preventative measures and lifestyle factors. Research has shown that healthy eating, not smoking, and physical activity are linked to prevention of dementia. However, despite research linking ultraprocessed foods (UPFs), defined as food products that contain minimal to no whole foods, to metabolic syndrome and associated diseases, there is little data examining the connection between UPFs and cognitive decline. This prospective cohort study investigated this association through a longitudinal study of adults based in Brazil. The study population consisted of public servants ranging from 35 to 74 years old, in 6 Brazilian cities, with data collected in three 3-year increments between 2008 and 2019. Diet was assessed through the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), and cognitive assessments were done up to 3 times every 4 years, which included tests for memory and executive function. In total, there were 10,775 study participants. Those with the highest quartile of UPF consumption were more likely to be non-smokers, less likely to be alcohol consumers, and more likely to have higher income and education. The results showed that after a median 8-year follow-up, there was a 28% more rapid rate of global cognitive decline in individuals reporting greater than 19.9% of daily caloric consumption from UPFs, compared to those reporting less than 19.9% (β = −0.004, 95% CI −0.006 to −0.001, p = 0.003). There was also a 25% quicker rate of decline in executive function (β = -0.003, 95% CI -0.005 to 0.000, p = 0.01), but no association with UPF consumption and memory. Overall, this study demonstrated that higher percentages of daily caloric intake from UPFs were associated with greater global cognitive decline and execution function decline at 8 years follow-up.

Click to read the study in JAMA Neurology

Image: PD

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