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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In my last post, I reviewed Alzheimer’s Care with Dignity by Frank Fuerst. It’s a book that I believe should be at your fingertips. In this post and others to follow, I want to highlight some of the chapters that were especially interesting and helpful. One of the most important members of your team is your doctor and in this post, I highlight how to choose a doctor for Alzheimer’s disease patients. However, Fuerst quotes the Alzheimer’s Association in the June 2006 report to Congress:

When a person under age 65 goes to a doctor with symptoms of dementia, the doctor may not even think of dementia as a possibility or may not know how to diagnose it. As a result, getting an accurate diagnosis can be a long, difficult, and frustrating process.

For Fuerst, it took almost three years and he states:

If one suspects early onset dementia, one should choose a doctor who can distinguish between depression, menopause, and dementia. A neuro-psychiatrist may be more likely to recommend tests that will give a more accurate diagnosis. The best choice for most people is a doctor whom other doctors highly recommend.

What makes an ideal doctor? A Mayo Clinic study suggests the following:

  1. Confident
  2. Empathetic
  3. Humane
  4. Personal
  5. Forthright
  6. Respectful
  7. Thorough

Are there any other traits you could recommend?

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