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Does food insufficiency in childhood contribute to dementia in later life?

Authors Momtaz Y, Haron SA, Hamid TA, Ibrahim R, Masud J

Received 11 June 2014

Accepted for publication 24 July 2014

Published 17 December 2014 Volume 2015:10 Pages 49—53

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S69220

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Yadollah Abolfathi Momtaz,1,4 Sharifah Azizah Haron,1,3 Tengku Aizan Hamid,1,2 Rahimah Ibrahim,1,2 Jariah Masud1

1Institute of Gerontology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; 2Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; 3Department of Resource Management and Consumer Studies, Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; 4Iranian Research Center on Aging, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: Despite several studies attempting to identify the risk factors for dementia, little is known about the impact of childhood living conditions on cognitive function in later life. The present study aims to examine the unique contribution of food insufficiency in childhood to dementia in old age.
Methods: Data for this study of 2,745 older Malaysians aged 60 years and older was obtained from a national survey entitled “Mental Health and Quality of Life of Older Malaysians” conducted from 2003 through 2005 using a cross-sectional design. The Geriatric Mental State-Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer Assisted Taxonomy was used to measure dementia. A multiple binary logistic regression using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 21 was conducted to assess the unique effect of food insufficiency in childhood on developing dementia in old age.
Results: A notably higher prevalence of dementia was found in respondents who indicated they had experienced food insufficiency in childhood than in their food-sufficient counterparts (23.5% versus 14.3%). The findings from multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that food insufficiency in childhood would independently increase the risk of developing dementia in old age by 81%, after adjusting for sociodemographic factors (odds ratio =1.81, 95% confidence interval 1.13–2.92, P<0.01).
Conclusion: Findings from the present study showing that food insufficiency in early life significantly contributes to dementia in later life highlight the importance of childhood living conditions in maintaining cognitive function in old age. It is, therefore, suggested that older adults with childhood food insufficiency might be targeted for programs designed to prevent dementia.

Keywords: aged, dementia, food insufficiency, Malaysia

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