Food and Behaviour Research

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Dietary fat intake and 6-year cognitive change in an older biracial community population

Morris MC, Evans DA, Bienias JL, Tangney CC, Wilson RS. (2004) Neurology.  62(9): 1573-9. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via Pubmed here


OBJECTIVE: To examine whether consumption of different types of fat is associated with age-related change in cognition.

METHODS: The authors related fat consumption to 6-year change in cognitive function among 2,560 participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project, ages 65 and older, with no history of heart attack, stroke, or diabetes at baseline. Fat intake was measured by food frequency questionnaire. Cognitive function was measured at baseline and 3-year and 6-year follow-ups, using the average z score of four cognitive tests: the East Boston Tests of Immediate and Delayed Recall, the Mini-Mental State Examination, and the Symbol Digit Modalities Test.

RESULTS: In separate mixed models adjusted for demographic and cardiovascular risk factors and intakes of antioxidant nutrients and other dietary fats, higher intakes of saturated fat (p for trend = 0.04) and trans-unsaturated fat (p for trend = 0.07) were linearly associated with greater decline in cognitive score over 6 years. These associations became stronger in analyses that eliminated persons whose fat intake changed in recent years or whose baseline cognitive scores were in the lowest 15%. Inverse associations with cognitive decline were observed in these latter restricted analyses for high intake of monounsaturated fat and a high ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat intake. Intakes of total fat, vegetable and animal fats, and cholesterol were not associated with cognitive change.

CONCLUSION: A diet high in saturated or trans-unsaturated fat or low in nonhydrogenated unsaturated fats may be associated with cognitive decline among older persons.