Ultra Processed foods and risk for dementia


Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    01 August 2022

People who consume high amounts of soft drinks/sodas, sugary products, ultra processed dairy products and salty snacks like chips are at high risk of future dementia, according to a study in Neurology.1 Replacing these ultra processed foods with healthier options reduced the risk.

This study analysed 72,083 participants, aged 55 years or older from the UK Biobank study to investigate the association between intake of ultra-processed foods and new onset of dementia. None of the selected participants had dementia at the time of their enrollment in the study. They completed an online dietary questionnaire at baseline and at predetermined time points during the study. Those who ate high amounts of ultraprocessed foods were physically inactive, had low education level, higher BMI and scored low on healthy diet scores and the Townsend Deprivation Index indicating relative affluence.

Over a median follow-up of 10 years, 518 participants developed dementia, of which 287 developed Alzheimers disease, 119 developed vascular dementia, while 112 had dementia of unspecified origin. The hazard ratio for dementia and consumption of ultra-processed foods was 1.25; for Alzheimers disease it was 1.14 and for vascular dementia, the HR was 1.28. With every 10% increase in the consumption, the probability of dementia increased by 25%, and among those who consumed the most ultra processed foods, the risk of dementia rose by 50% (HR 1.51).

The risk for dementia decreased by 19% and by 22% for vascular dementia when 10% of the ultra processed food was replaced by an equal amount of minimally processed or unprocessed food establishing the beneficial effects of a healthy diet in reducing risk of dementia.


  1. Huiping Li, et al. Association of ultraprocessed food consumption with risk of dementia: a prospective cohort. Neurology. 2022 Jul 27;10.1212/WNL.0000000000200871. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200871.

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