Cognitive decline and the default american lifestyle
Sommaire de l'article
OBJECTIVES: Upward trends in IQ, education, and mental work suggest that cognitive function among seniors should be rising strongly across cohorts. There is little sign of such improvement in recent decades, and some analyses find poorer function in the newer cohorts. This essay explores possible explanations of the anomaly.
METHODS: Major long-term trends that might increase cognitive impairment are reviewed, and their implications are considered.
RESULTS: Physical activity is declining, food is increasingly manufactured, body fat is increasing, diabetes and metabolic syndrome are on the rise, the number of prescription drugs per person is increasing, and the proportion of the population either old or obese is growing.
DISCUSSION: Technological and economic development may lower the cognitive function needed for survival. They also lower physical activity in daily life. Sedentary work, transportation, and leisure undermine the aerobic and metabolic fitness required for the brain to perform well. Some prescription drugs impair cognitive function, and others do so when taken for many years or in combination with others. The growing fraction of the population that is either old or obese may further lower physical activity norms and requirements and substitute medical intervention for health, accelerating a trend toward cognitive impairment.