Researchers examine the association between food insecurity and dementia


For older adults, food insecurity is associated with an increase estimated dementia risk, according to a study published on 21 November in the journal JAMA Network Open. In the study, US researchers used data from the US Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative, biennially fielded longitudinal survey of non-institutionalised individuals aged 50 years and older and their spouses. Analyses were conducted with data from people with food insecurity data in 2013 and cognitive outcome data between calendar years 2014 and 2018. Food insecurity status in 2013 was assessed using the validated US Department of Agriculture 6-item Household Food Security Module. Respondents were asked a series of questions related to food purchases and consumption over the past 12 months to determine food security status, such as whether they were able to afford the food they needed or whether they ate less due to financial constraints.

Respondents were classified as being food secure, low food secure and very low food secure. The sample included 7,012 participants with a mean age of 67.7 years. Overall, 18.4% of the analytic sample were food insecure: 10.3% experienced low food security and 8.1% experienced very low food security. Researchers found that participants experiencing low or very low food security had a higher probability of dementia, compared to food-secure older adults. Low and very low food security was also associated with lower memory levels and faster age-related memory decline.