Dietary Quality May Enhance Survival Related to Cognitive Impairment in Taiwanese Elderly

Journal Article

Rosalind Chia-Yu Chen, Yu-Hung Chang, Meei-Shyuan Lee, Mark L Wahlqvist*
* MAI Emeritus Professor

Published in Food and Nutrition Research, October 2011. (link to the full paper)

SUMMARY: In a Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan (NAHSIT 1999-2000), 1,839 representative elderly were followed for mortality up to 10 years. The dietary quality measure was a dietary diversity score (DDS, range: 0_6) to present six food groups (dairy, meat, rice and grains, fruit, vegetable, fat and oil) derived from a 24-hour dietary recall. Cognitive function was evaluated by the validated Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ). After control for potential confounders, participants with cognitive impairment (SPMSQ ≥ 3 errors) had 1.46 (95% confidence intervals (CI), 1.06-2.02) times the all-cause-mortality risk of those with intact cognition. Significant interactions for DDS and cognition were found (p<0.001). Jointly, compared to normal-SPMSQ-highest DDS, the greatest HR is where impaired cognition is combined with the lowest DDS (HR 2.24, 95% CI: 1.194.24). Increased DDS was associated with improvement in survival that is especially evident in those with 1-2 errors where the greatest HR reduction was found, and for fruit. Attributability for mortality amounted to 18% for impaired cognition and 33% for least diverse diet. In conclusion, dietary diversity may improve survival in relation to impaired cognitive function.

Listen to the interview of Prof Mark L Wahlqvist, ‘Meals on Wheels and the right menu for aging Australians’ on ABC Rural (Mon 7 Nov 2011):