Overeating may lead to memory loss

By Gillian Tsoi

Overeating may double the risk of memory loss, according to new research from the US.

A study suggests that eating between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people over the age of 70.

MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with ageing and early Alzheimer's disease.

There were 1,233 people between 70 and 89 years who took part in the study. None of the participants suffered with dementia, but 163 had MCI.

For the study, participants were surveyed on the amount of calories they ate or drank and were subsequently divided into three equal groups based on their daily calorie consumption.

A third of the participants ate 600-1,526 calories a day, a third ate 1,526-2,143 calories a day and the final third consumed 2,143-6,000 calories every day.

The researchers observed a "dose-response" pattern. This means that the higher the amount of calories a person consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI.

The odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie 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.

"Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age," said Prof. Yonas E Geda, researcher with the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in New Orleans in April 2012.

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