Overeating and Memory Loss

A recent study shows that overeating more than 2,100 calories a day nearly doubled the risk of memory loss or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The study concerned those over 70 years old and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012. According to study author Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, “We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI.”

According to Wikipedia, MCI is a brain-function syndrome involving the onset and evolution of cognitive impairments beyond those expected based on the age and education of the individual, but which are not significant enough to interfere with their daily activities. It is often found to be a transitional stage between normal aging and dementia.

For this investigation, they turned to the Mayo Clinic Study on Aging, an ongoing, population-based cohort study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. The analysis involved 1233 nondemented participants aged from 70 to 89 years; 1070 patients were cognitively normal, and 163 had MCI.

The subjects noted the amount of calories they ate or drank in a food questionnaire. They were divided into three equal groups based on their daily caloric consumption.

  • One-third consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day.
  • One-third consumed between 1,526 and 2,143 calories per day.
  • One-third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day.

The analyses were adjusted for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. The risk for the highest calorie group was nearly double that of the lower calorie group. There was no noticeable difference in risk for the middle group.

According to Geda, the findings should be considered preliminary. However, consuming in moderation is a good idea for other medical reasons as well.

The co-authors of the study include Ronald C. Petersen, MD, Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, and other investigators of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Rochester, Minn.

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Happy New Year! I hope 2011 is off to a good start for you and your loved ones. I thought I’d start off the year by writing about an article that appeared in Medical News Today. A study published in the November edition of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association suggests that taking docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may improve memory and learning in older adults with mild cognitive impairments. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid. This is promising news for many aging Americans who are searching for options to maintain memory and support overall cognitive health.

DHA is something contained in fish oil capsules that you can buy over-the counter at any drug store or large box stores such as Walmart or Costco. They vary in the amount of DHA so you will need to read the label. There is also a prescription fish oil called Lovaza that contains 375 mg of DHA. The particular brand that I take has a warning: Do not use with anticoagulant and platelet-inhibiting drugs like aspirin, etc. I wrote about other warnings in another blog. Read more here.

The study found that DHA taken for six months improved memory and learning in healthy, older adults with mild memory complaints. This study underscored the importance of early intervention and the necessity of taking supplements over a period of time. According to Duffy MacKay, N.D., vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), “When included as a part of a proactive health regimen that includes a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity and routine visits with a healthcare professional, dietary supplements offer an important tool to help support many systems in the body, including memory and cognitive function.” To read the full article, click here.

My warmest wishes for a very healthy year ahead!