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Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Feb;71(2):637S-642S.

Weight loss in Alzheimer disease.

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Departments of Gerontology and Internal Medicine and Exploration of Respiratory Function and Sports Medicine, Purpan University Hospital, Toulouse, France.



Epidemiologic studies have shown that weight loss is commonly associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) and is a manifestation of the disease itself. The etiology of weight loss in AD appears multifactorial. Hypotheses to explain the weight loss have been suggested (eg, atrophy of the mesial temporal cortex, biological disturbances, and higher energy expenditure); however, none have been proven.


In the first part of this article, we describe weight loss in AD (epidemiologic data and hypotheses to explain weight loss and anorexia in AD). In the second part we report the results of a longitudinal study of the changes in nutritional variables in a cohort of patients with a probable diagnosis of AD.


We followed subjects with AD (based on criteria of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke/Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association) who were recruited from the Alzheimer's Disease Center in Toulouse. All subject underwent a nutritional, neuropsychologic, and functional evaluation. The Zarit scales were used to assess caregiver burden and caregiver reactions to the patients' behavioral and autonomic disorders.


We showed that only results of the Burden Interview and the Memory and Behavior Problems Checklist, which explored caregiver burden, predicted weight loss in AD. It is possible that caregivers who consider themselves overburdened by the disease process are not willing to invest adequate resources to allow AD patients to properly nourish themselves.


Nutritional education programs for the caregivers of AD patients seem to be the best way to prevent weight loss and improve the nutritional status of these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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