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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Research Project #442237

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: 8050-51000-102-015-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2021
End Date: Jan 1, 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. We 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. Our study proposes to evaluate a strawberry intervention to attenuate age-related declines in cognition and gait in older, obese adults. Hypothesis: 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. We hope to show that strawberry supplementation attenuates 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 explore the effects of chronic strawberry supplementation in older (55-75 years old), obese (BMI 30-36) adults in a double-blind, placebo controlled, 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.