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J Prev Alzheimers Dis. 2019;6(3):204-211. doi: 10.14283/jpad.2019.9.

Dietary Fat Intake and Cognitive Function among Older Populations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

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Beibei Xu, Peking University Medical Informatics Center, Beijing, China. Phone: 010-82805904. E-mail:



The associations between dietary fat intake and cognitive function are inconsistent and inconclusive. This study aimed to provide a quantitative synthesis of prospective cohort studies on the relationship between dietary fat intake and cognitive function among older adults.


PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Web of Science databases were searched for prospective cohort studies published in English before March 2018 reporting cognitive outcomes in relation to dietary fat intake. Four binary incident outcomes included were mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia, Alzheimer disease (AD) and cognitive impairment. The categories of dietary fat intake were based on fat consumption or the percentage of energy from fat consumption, including dichotomies, tertiles, quartiles and quintiles. The relative risk (RR) with the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) was pooled using a random effects model.


Nine studies covering a total of 23,402 participants were included. Compared with the lowest category of consumption, the highest category of saturated fat intake was associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment (RR = 1.40; 95% CI: 1.02-1.91) and AD (RR: 1.87, 95% CI: 1.09-3.20). The total and unsaturated fat intake was not statistically associated with cognitive outcomes with significant between-study heterogeneity.


This study reported a detrimental association between saturated fat intake and cognitive impairment and mixed results between unsaturated fat intake and selected cognitive outcomes. Given the substantial heterogeneity in the sample size and methodology used across studies, the evidence presented here should be interpreted with caution.


Alzheimer’s disease; High-fat diet; cognitive function; dementia; mild cognitive impairment


Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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