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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NUTRITIONAL MODULATION OF GAIT AND COGNITION IN AGING Title: Habitual sugar intake and cognitive function among middle-aged and older Puerto Ricans without diabetes

Authors
item Ye, Xingwang -
item Gao, Xiang -
item Scott, Tammyi M. -
item Tucker, Katherine L. -

Submitted to: British Journal of Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 9, 2011
Publication Date: November 14, 2011
Citation: Ye, X., Gao, X., Scott, T., Tucker, K. 2011. Habitual sugar intake and cognitive function among middle-aged and older Puerto Ricans without diabetes. British Journal of Nutrition. 106(9):1423-1432.

Interpretive Summary: The consumption of added sugars, mainly fructose and sucrose, has been associated with obesity, the metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes. Since diabetes is a risk factor for cognitive impairment, the objective of this work was to evaluate whether habitual consumption of these sweeteners was associated with impaired cognition. We found that greater intakes of total sugars, added sugars, and sugar-sweetened beverages, but not of sugar-sweetened solid foods, were associated with lower scores on cognitive tests. While more studies are needed to clarify this relationship, these findings suggest that a high consumption of added sugars may negatively impact cognitive function.

Technical Abstract: Intake of added sugars, mainly fructose and sucrose, has been associated with risk factors for cognitive impairment, such as obesity, the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The objective of this analysis was to examine whether habitual intakes of total sugars, added sugars, sugar-sweetened beverages or sweetened solid foods are associated with cognitive function. The present study included 737 participants without diabetes, aged 45–75 years, from the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, 2004–9. Cognitive function was measured with a battery of seven tests: Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), word list learning, digit span, clock drawing, figure copying, and Stroop and verbal fluency tests. Usual dietary intake was assessed with a validated FFQ. Greater intakes of total sugars, added sugars and sugarsweetened beverages, but not of sugar-sweetened solid foods, were significantly associated with lower MMSE score, after adjusting for covariates. Adjusted OR for cognitive impairment (MMSE score <24) were 2x23 (95% CI 1x24, 3x99) for total sugars and 2x28 (95% CI 1x26, 4x14) for added sugars, comparing the highest with lowest intake quintiles. Greater intake of total sugars was also significantly associated with lower word list learning score. In conclusion, higher sugar intake appears to be associated with lower cognitive function, but longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the direction of causality.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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