Diet and general cognitive ability in the UK Biobank dataset

Hepsomali, P. and Groeger, J.A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3582-1058, 2021. Diet and general cognitive ability in the UK Biobank dataset. Scientific Reports, 11 (1): 11786.

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Accumulating evidence suggests that dietary interventions might have potential to be used as a strategy to protect against age-related cognitive decline and neurodegeneration, as there are associations between some nutrients, food groups, dietary patterns, and some domains of cognition. In this study, we aimed to conduct the largest investigation of diet and cognition to date, through systematically examining the UK Biobank (UKB) data to find out whether dietary quality and food groups play a role on general cognitive ability. This cross-sectional population-based study involved 48,749 participants. UKB data on food frequency questionnaire and cognitive function were used. Also, healthy diet, partial fibre intake, and milk intake scores were calculated. Adjusted models included age, sex, and BMI. We observed associations between better general cognitive ability and higher intakes of fish, and unprocessed red meat; and moderate intakes of fibre, and milk. Surprisingly, we found that diet quality, vegetable intake, high and low fibre and milk intake were inversely associated with general cognitive ability. Our results suggest that fish and unprocessed red meat and/or nutrients that are found in fish and unprocessed red meat might be beneficial for general cognitive ability. However, results should be interpreted in caution as the same food groups may affect other domains of cognition or mental health differently. These discrepancies in the current state of evidence invites further research to examine domain-specific effects of dietary patterns/food groups on a wide range of cognitive and affective outcomes with a special focus on potential covariates that may have an impact on diet and cognition relationship.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Creators: Hepsomali, P. and Groeger, J.A.
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Date: December 2021
Volume: 11
Number: 1
Rights: © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 25 Oct 2021 08:18
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2021 08:18

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