Education Attenuates the Association between Dietary Patterns and Cognition

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.
Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.55). 03/2009; 27(2):147-54. DOI: 10.1159/000199235
Source: PubMed


Various foods have been shown to be associated with cognitive outcomes. As individual food items are not consumed in isolation, we examined the association between dietary patterns and cognitive function, with special attention to the role of education in this association.
Analyses were carried out on 4,693 stroke-free white European participants of the Whitehall II study. Two dietary patterns were determined using principal component analysis: a 'whole food' and a 'processed food' pattern. Cognitive function was assessed using a battery of 5 tests.
After adjustment for demographic, behavioral and health measures, higher intake of 'whole food' diet was associated with lower and high consumption of 'processed food' with higher odds of cognitive deficit. However, adjustment for education significantly attenuated most of these associations.
Education, through its role as a powerful confounder, shapes the relationship between dietary patterns and cognitive deficit in a healthy middle-aged UK cohort.

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Available from: Archana Singh-Manoux
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    • "Most of these studies have shown the protective effect of " Mediterranean-like diets " on dementia or cognitive decline [9,10], although findings are inconsistent [11] . In contrast, a dietary pattern low in vegetables and high in saturated/trans-fat and sugar has been associated with cognitive deficits and Alzheimer's disease (AD) [12,13]. The " Western-type " dietary pattern, which includes red meat, refined grains, high-fat dairy products, and sugar [14] , has been found to play a role in the development of AD in animal models [15,16], but the influence of major dietary patterns on cognitive decline remains unclear. "
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    • "These factors indicate the presence of cognitive reserve [21] [22]. The cognitive reserve is being analyzed in recent years and is usually assessed considering scholarity, socioeconomic status, occupations that the person has or had during life, leisure activities, IQ (intelligence quotient) and the level of literacy [23]. "
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    • "In an English cohort, with a mean age of 56 years at baseline, two distinct patterns of food consumption, " whole food " and " processed food, " were found using principal components analysis (Akbaraly et al., 2009). Risk of depression 5 years later was higher in the lowest tertile of wholefood consumption but did not change substantially over the other two tertiles, whereas for processed food, the risk of depression increased consistently with increased consumption (Akbaraly et al., 2009). "
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