Dietary patterns and trajectories of global- and domain-specific cognitive decline in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Healthy dietary patterns may protect against age-related cognitive decline but results of studies have been inconsistent and few have had extensive longitudinal follow-up with comprehensive cognitive testing. The aim of the present study was to determine associations of dietary patterns with trajectories of global and domain-specific cognitive change over a 12-year period. Data from 863 community-dwelling, dementia-free participants from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 study of ageing completed a food frequency questionnaire at baseline (aged 70) and underwent cognitive testing at baseline, age 73, 76, 79, and 82. Composite cognitive scores were constructed for four cognitive domains (visuospatial ability, processing speed, memory, and verbal ability) and global cognitive function. A Mediterranean-style pattern and a traditional pattern were derived using principal component analysis of self-reported dietary intakes. In fully-adjusted latent growth curve models, higher baseline adherence to the Mediterranean-style dietary pattern (β = 0.056, P = 0.009) and lower baseline adherence to the traditional dietary pattern (β = -0.087, P < 0.001) were cross-sectionally associated with better verbal ability. A slightly steeper decline in verbal ability over 12 years was observed in those with higher Mediterranean-style diet scores at baseline (β = -0.003, P = 0.008). All other associations were non-significant. Our findings in this well-characterised Scottish cohort indicate that adherence to a healthy Mediterranean-style diet is associated cross-sectionally with better verbal (crystallised) ability, with the converse being true for the traditional diet. A healthier baseline diet did not predict a reduced risk of global or domain-specific cognitive decline.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Early online date23 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Dec 2020


  • dietary patterns
  • cognitive decline
  • cohort studies
  • older adults
  • latent growth modelling
  • false discovery rate
  • intelligence quotient
  • Lothian Birth Cohort 1936
  • mini-mental state examination
  • principal component analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Dietary patterns and trajectories of global- and domain-specific cognitive decline in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this