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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Research Project #440957

Research Project: The Effects of Strawberry Supplementation on Memory and Gait Among Obese Older Adults

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Project Number: 8050-51000-102-013-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2021
End Date: Jan 31, 2024

Impairments in gait and cognition are seen in older adults. Oxidative stress and inflammation are thought to be risk factors in age-related neuronal decline. ARS scientists have shown that berry supplementation may present a means of combating age-related declines in psychomotor function and cognition, perhaps due to the polyphenolic compounds contained in them. Strawberries (SBs) are a significant source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. This study proposes to evaluate a strawberry intervention to attenuate age-related declines in cognition and gait in older, obese adults. The hypothesis is that dietary strawberry will attenuate or enhance declining mobility and cognition in older, obese adults. Strawberries’ impact will be most pronounced on challenging tests of gait and cognition. Improvements in cognition and mobility will be associated with biological measures of inflammation, oxidative stress, and clinically relevant indices of health. The objective of this proposal is to assess the benefits of dietary strawberries for improving cognition and gait in older, obese adults. Strawberry supplementation could attenuate specific cognitive and motor deficits normally associated with inflammation and oxidative stress due to obesity and aging. This information can then be utilized to show that the addition of strawberries to the diet can increase “health span” in aging, and possibly slow the aging process by reducing the incidence of inflammation and oxidative stress.

The proposed research will use a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design to examine the effects of chronic strawberry (SB) supplementation on mobility and cognition among obese older adults (ages 55-75; BMI 28.5-40; hemoglobin A1C level between 5.7 and 6.4% or blood glucose between 100-125 mg/dl (prediabetes) in a pre-test post-test experimental design. Participants will consume 12g freeze-dried strawberry powder twice a day (equivalent to approx. 2 cups or servings/day fresh SB) or placebo powder for 3 months. Measures of gait and cognition will be assessed at baseline, then after 1.5 and 3 months. Cognition will be assessed through challenging measures of spatial navigation, attention, short- and long-term memory, and executive function. Mobility will be assessed through analysis of gait while under a challenging cognitive load.