Researchers have found that eating over 2,100 calories a day can double the risk of cognitive impairment among elderly people.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a syndrome characterised by mild memory loss. It is the stage between the normal memory loss that comes with ageing and the beginnings of dementia.
Scientists in the U.S looked at the eating and drinking habits of 1,200 people aged 70 to 89 who did not have dementia, and gave them memory tests.
The study participants were divided into 3 groups. One included people consuming 600 to 1,500 calories a day, another consuming 1,500 to 2,100 calories a day, and a third for those consuming 2,100 to 6,000 a day.
Researchers found that whilst there was no significant difference between the two lower groups, the risk of cognitive impairment was twice as high for those in the higher calories group.
The connection was clear even after the scientists had adjusted the data to account for other factors that could influence memory loss, such as educational levels, history of stroke, diabetes or depression.
Dementia is a common condition. In England alone, there are currently 570,000 people living with dementia. That number is expected to double over the next 30 years.
Usually dementia occurs in people who are 65 or over. The older you get, the more likely you are to develop it. Dementia is slightly more common in women than in men.
Study author Dr Yonas Geda, from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, said: 'We observed a dose-response pattern, which means: the higher the number of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk.’
'Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age.'
The findings are yet to be published, but will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual conference in April.
Dementia is considered a chronic condition, so will not be covered by private medical insurance. For more information take a look at our medical insurance FAQs.
However, some policies will reward customers for eating a healthy diet, so compare health insurance online now to see what other conditions you could be covered for.
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