Among people from a broad ethnic sample, a higher calorie intake of ultraprocessed meals per day was linked to cognitive impairment, says an article published in the *Journal of American Medical Association – Neurology. *

The relationship between eating ultraprocessed foods and cognitive decline is poorly understood, despite the fact that it has been shown that these foods increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health, Natalia Gomes Gonçalves and colleagues undertook this study to explore the relationship between eating ultraprocessed foods and cognitive deterioration.

With three waves spaced around four years apart, this multicenter prospective cohort research ran from 2008 to 2017. Between December 2021 and May 2022, data were examined. Public employees between the ages of 35 and 74 were recruited from 6 Brazilian cities as participants. Participants who had insufficient baseline information on their cognitive abilities, dietary frequency questionnaire, or covariates were eliminated. Participants with high calorie consumption (600 or more calories per day) and those who were using drugs that could impair cognitive function were also excluded from the study.

The study’s criterion was the proportion of daily energy intake from ultraprocessed foods, which was separated into quartiles. The Trail-Making Test B, word recognition, phonemic and semantic verbal fluency tests, and immediate and delayed word recall tests are used to measure changes in cognitive ability over time.

The key findings of this study were:

A total of 15 105 people were recruited; 4330 of them were later eliminated, leaving 10 775 people whose data were examined.

At the baseline, there were 5880 participants (54.6%) who were female, 5723 (53.1%) who were White, and 6106 (56.6%) who had at least a bachelor’s degree.

The mean (SD) age at baseline was 51.6 (8.9) years.

Individuals with ultraprocessed food intake above the first quartile had a 28% faster rate of overall cognitive impairment and a 25% faster rate of executive function decline compared with those in the first quartile over a median (range) follow-up of 8 (6–10) years.

The Authors suggest that due to their propensity to damage cognitive function, ultraprocessed foods should be consumed in moderation, according to these findings, which corroborate current public health recommendations.

Reference:

Gomes Gonçalves, N., Vidal Ferreira, N., Khandpur, N., Martinez Steele, E., Bertazzi Levy, R., Andrade Lotufo, P., Bensenor, I. M., Caramelli, P., Alvim de Matos, S. M., Marchioni, D. M., & Suemoto, C. K. (2022). Association Between Consumption of Ultraprocessed Foods and Cognitive Decline. In JAMA Neurology. American Medical Association (AMA). https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.4397

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