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Br J Nutr. 2009 Aug;102(3):419-27. doi: 10.1017/S0007114508201959. Epub 2009 Feb 10.

Long-term association of food and nutrient intakes with cognitive and functional decline: a 13-year follow-up study of elderly French women.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, ERI 20, EA 4045, and Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.


The objective of the present study was to determine the potential long-term impact of dietary habits on age-related decline among 4809 elderly women (born between 1925 and 1930) in the 'Etude Epidémiologique de Femmes de la Mutuelle Générale de l'Education Nationale' (E3N) study, a French epidemiological cohort. In 1993, an extensive diet history self-administered questionnaire was sent to all participants, and in 2006 another questionnaire on instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and recent cognitive change was sent to a close relative or friend of each woman. Logistic models adjusted for socio-demographic, lifestyle and health factors were performed to evaluate associations between habitual dietary intakes and two outcomes of interest based on the informant response: recent cognitive decline and IADL impairment. Recent cognitive decline was associated with lower intakes of poultry, fish, and animal fats, as well as higher intakes of dairy desserts and ice-cream. IADL impairment was associated with a lower intake of vegetables. The odds of recent cognitive decline increased significantly with decreasing intake of soluble dietary fibre and n-3 fatty acids but with increasing intake of retinol. The odds of IADL impairment increased significantly with decreasing intakes of vitamins B2, B6 and B12. These results are consistent with a possible long-term neuroprotective effect of dietary fibre, n-3 polyunsaturated fats and B-group vitamins, and support dietary intervention to prevent cognitive decline.

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