Around 55 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, and this number has been rising over time. By 2050, the population is projected to triple, particularly in low- and middle-income nations. Not only does dementia lower people’s quality of life, but it also places a heavy financial strain on families and society as a whole.
The temporal distribution of energy intake throughout the day (TPEI) and the risk of developing numerous chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension have been linked in epidemiological research. However, there isn’t a lot of data showing how TPEI affects cognitive performance in the general population.
Previous research using animal models has demonstrated that irregular mealtimes can alter the hippocampus’s internal clock rhythms, which in turn influence cognitive function. In comparison to eating twice between 9 am and 3 pm, dividing the same quantity of food into four meals between 9 am and 3 pm could improve cognitive function, according to a short-term intervention experiment including 96 young adults. Long-term research on TPEIs and cognitive performance, however, is insufficient.
Recent research from Zhejiang University’s Drs. Changzheng Yuan and Dongmei Yu, titled “Temporal patterns of energy intake and cognitive function and its decline: a community-based cohort study in China,” was published in the journal Life Metabolism. A total of 3,342 participants from nine Chinese provinces with a baseline age >= 55 years who were middle-aged and older people (mean age 62 years) were included in the study based on the China Nutrition Health Survey (CHNS) public database.
The researchers used two methods to measure cognitive function: 1) A data-driven k-means algorithm was used to identify six patterns of TPEIs, including the “evenly-distributed” pattern, “breakfast-dominant” pattern, “lunch-dominant” pattern, “dinner-dominant” pattern, “snack-rich” pattern, and “breakfast-skipping” pattern; 2) Cognitive function was assessed using the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS- (5 points). 3) The correlation of TPEIs to cognitive function over 10 years was evaluated using linear mixed models (LMMs), which were adjusted for age, gender, residence, total energy, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol consumption, household income, education level, and body mass index. The total global cognitive score ranged from 0 to 27, with a higher score indicating better cognitive function; (BMI).
The findings revealed that people with uneven TPEIs, particularly those with a “breakfast-skipping” pattern, had significantly worse long-term cognitive function scores than those with a “evenly-distributed” pattern. Keeping a healthy balance of TPEIs can therefore potentially improve cognitive health, whereas skipping breakfast can considerably raise the risk of cognitive decline in middle-aged and older persons. This study’s conclusion emphasises the significance of optimum TPEIs for cognitive performance.