Overeating may increase risk of memory loss

February 15, 2012

New research presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La., shows that consuming 2,100–6,000 calories/day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people ages 70+. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer’s disease.

“We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means that the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI,” said study author Yonas E. Geda, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 1,233 people, ages 70–89, and free of dementia residing in Olmsted County, Minn. Of those, 163 had MCI. Participants reported the amount of calories they ate or drank in a food questionnaire and were divided into three equal groups based on their daily caloric consumption. One-third of the participants consumed 600–1,526 calories/day, one-third ate 1,526–2,143 calories/day, and one-third took in 2,143–6,000 calories/day.

The researchers found that the odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie-consuming group. The results were the same after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. There was no significant difference in risk for the middle group.

Press release