Food and Behaviour Research

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Fish Intake Is Associated with Slower Cognitive Decline in Chinese Older Adults

Qin B, Plassman BL, Edwards LJ, Popkin BM, Adair LS, Mendez MA (2014) Journal of Nutrition pii: jn.114.193854. [Epub ahead of print]  American Society for Nutrition

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Modifiable lifestyle changes, including dietary changes, could translate into a great reduction in the global burden of cognitive impairment and dementia. Few studies evaluated the benefits of fish intake for delaying cognitive decline, and no studies were conducted in a Chinese population, which may differ with respect to types, amounts, and correlates of fish consumption compared with Western populations. We hypothesized that higher consumption of fish would predict slower decline in cognitive function, independent of a wide range of potential confounders. This prospective cohort study comprised 1566 community-dwelling adults aged ≥55 y who completed a cognitive screening test at ≥2 waves of the China Health and Nutrition Survey in 1997, 2000, or 2004, with a mean follow-up of 5.3 y [age at entry (mean ± SD): 63 ± 6 y]. Diet was measured by 3-d 24-h recalls at baseline. Outcomes included repeated measures of global cognitive scores (baseline mean ± SD: 19 ± 6 points), composite cognitive Z-scores (standardized units), and standardized verbal memory scores (standardized units). Multivariable-adjusted linear mixed-effects models were used to evaluate the relation of fish intake with changes in cognitive scores. Age was found to significantly modify the association between fish consumption and cognitive change (P = 0.007). Among adults aged ≥65 y, compared with individuals who consumed <1 serving/wk (i.e., 100 g) fish, the mean annual rate of global cognitive decline was reduced by 0.35 point (95% CI: 0.13, 0.58) among those consuming ≥1 serving/week, equivalent to the disparity associated with 1.6 y of age. Fish consumption was also associated with a slower decline in composite and verbal memory scores. No associations were observed among adults aged 55-64 y. Our findings suggest a potential role of fish consumption as a modifiable dietary factor to reduce the rate of cognitive decline in later life.