N° 44 | April 2010


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Cognitive impairment is a broad term to describe a wide variety of impaired brain function relating to the ability of a person to think, concentrate, reason and remember. The most severe degree of cognitive impairment is dementia. Currently, no pharmaceutical treatment is available to cure dementia. Prevention is however a way to reduce the burden of dementia in western countries, and diet might be a successful candidate. Several epidemiological studies have shown that high intake of Fruits and Vegetables (F&V) was associated with a decreased risk of developing dementia in cohorts of elderly people. But few studies have addressed the impact of food intake during infancy or at midlife on cognitive function.

The results presented in this Newsletter show that people engaged in a healthy diet have a lower risk of cognitive and functional decline. They also highlight that F&V intake is closely linked to other favorable behaviours (such as no smoking, low alcohol consumption and high physical activity). Children fed a diet characterized by high consumption of fruit, vegetables and home prepared foods had higher IQ, verbal IQ and better memory performance at age 4 years. Adjustment for maternal education, intelligence and social class attenuated the association but it remained significant.

These findings show that F&V intake might be associated with better cognitive performances but one must keep in mind that unmeasured confounding factors (especially social and cultural ones) may partly explain these results.

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