Experts theorize that diet may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease but epidemiological data on diet and Alzheimer's is conflicting and while individual foods and nutrients have been previously studied, general dietary patterns have not. To address this paucity of data, researchers led by Nikolaos Scarmeas of Columbia University Medical Center, designed a prospective community-based study of 2,258 non-demented people in New York City. The study was funded by the NIH/NIA.
The subjects were part of the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging project, and for each, the researchers gathered medical and neurological history, did a standardized physical and neurological exam, and conducted an in-person interview to assess health and neuropsychological function. This information was used to diagnose a presence or absence of dementia. Subjects were reassessed approximately every 18 months for an average of 4 years.
The researchers also obtained dietary data from each subject using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. They determined a Mediterranean Diet score (0-9) based on a previously described method. During the course of the study, 262 members of the study population were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
"Higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," the authors report. For each additional point to Mediterranean diet scores (indicating increased adherence to the diet), Alzheimer's risk dr
Contact: Amy Molnar
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