Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can going hungry as a child slow down cognitive decline in later years?

Date:
December 10, 2012
Source:
American Academy of Neurology
Summary:
People who sometimes went hungry as children had slower cognitive decline once they were elderly than people who always had enough food to eat, according to a new study.

People who sometimes went hungry as children had slower cognitive decline once they were elderly than people who always had enough food to eat, according to a new study published in the December 11, 2012, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"These results were unexpected because other studies have shown that people who experience adversity as children are more likely to have problems such as heart disease, mental illness and even lower cognitive functioning than people whose childhoods are free of adversity," said study author Lisa L. Barnes, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The study involved 6,158 people with an average age of 75 who were living in Chicago. Participants, 62 percent of whom were African American, were asked about their health as children, their family's financial situation, and their home learning environment, based on how often others read or told them stories or played games with them. Then every three years for up to 16 years, participants took cognitive tests to measure any changes.

For the African American participants, the 5.8 percent who reported that they went without enough food to eat sometimes, often or always were more likely to have a slower rate of cognitive decline, or decline that was reduced by about one-third, than those who rarely or never went without enough food to eat. The 8.4 percent of African American participants who reported that they were much thinner at age 12 than other kids their age also were more likely to have a slower rate of cognitive decline, also by one-third, than those who said they were about the same size or heavier than other kids their age. For Caucasians, there was no relationship between any of the childhood adversity factors and cognitive decline. Barnes said researchers aren't sure why childhood hunger could have a possible protective effect on cognitive decline. One potential explanation for the finding could be found in research that has shown that calorie restriction can delay the onset of age-related changes in the body and increase the life span. Another explanation could be a selective survival effect. The older people in the study who experienced childhood adversity may be the hardiest and most resilient of their era; those with the most extreme adversity may have died before they reached old age.

Barnes noted that the results stayed the same after researchers adjusted for factors such as amount of education and health problems. The results also did not change after researchers repeated the analysis after excluding people with the lowest cognitive function at the beginning of the study to help rule out the possibility that people with mild, undiagnosed Alzheimer's disease were included in the study.

Because relatively few Caucasians in the study reported childhood adversity, the study may not have been able to detect an effect of adversity on cognitive decline in Caucasians, Barnes said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Academy of Neurology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. L. Barnes, R. S. Wilson, S. A. Everson-Rose, M. D. Hayward, D. A. Evans, C. F. Mendes de Leon. Effects of early-life adversity on cognitive decline in older African Americans and whites. Neurology, 2012; 79 (24): 2321 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318278b607

Cite This Page:

American Academy of Neurology. "Can going hungry as a child slow down cognitive decline in later years?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210163624.htm>.
American Academy of Neurology. (2012, December 10). Can going hungry as a child slow down cognitive decline in later years?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210163624.htm
American Academy of Neurology. "Can going hungry as a child slow down cognitive decline in later years?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210163624.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) — Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

AP (Apr. 10, 2014) — As states slash funding for mental health services, police officers are interacting more than ever with people suffering from schizophrenia and other serious disorders of the mind. The consequences can be deadly. (April 10) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Newsy (Apr. 9, 2014) — A University of Pittsburgh study found pop music that mentions alcohol is linked to higher drinking rates among teens. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins