• Arizona

    Overeating May Double the Risk of Memory Loss

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A new study from Mayo Clinic supports the idea that "what's good for your heart is good for your brain." The study, released today, suggests that eating too much may double the risk for memory loss in people age 70 and older. This research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28.

illustration of brain

"We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of mild cognitive impairment," said study author Yonas E. Geda, M.D., MSc, a neurologist and psychiatrist with Mayo Clinic in Arizona. He noted that 2,143 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss.

While the relationship between cardiovascular problems and overeating are well known, the study further documents the similarities of cardiovascular risks and neurological risks such as mild cognitive impairment, Dr. Geda says. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer's disease.

VIDEO: Click here for a video of Dr. Geda explaining the study.

The study involved 1,233 people in Olmsted County, Minn., ages 70 to 89 and free of dementia. 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 consumed 600 to 1,526 calories per day, one-third 1,526 to 2,143 calories and one-third 2,143 to 6,000 calories per day.

The odds of having MCI more than doubled for people in the highest calorie-consuming group compared with people 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.

"Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age," Geda says.

The study co-authors include Ronald C. Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., and other investigators at the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Rochester, Minn. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Robert H. and Clarice Smith and Abigail van Buren Alzheimer's Disease Research Program.

Media Contact: Jim McVeigh, Public Affairs, 480-301-4222