Report reveals undernutrition a major problem among people with dementia in all world regions

11 February 2014 - ‘Nutrition and Dementia: a review of available research’ calls for stakeholders around the world to recognize nutrition as an important factor for the wellbeing of people with dementia, finding that 20-45% of those with dementia experience clinically significant weight loss over one year.

Commissioned by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), supported by a grant from Compass Group, the report reviews dietary factors across the life course that might increase or decrease the risk of onset of dementia in later life. It also details what actions could be taken to improve the nutrition of people with dementia both through diet and external factors, such as modifying the mealtime environment and supporting and training carers.

The report recommends that nutritional standards need to be adopted throughout the health and social care sector, and that more research needs to be conducted into the effective components of diets that might prevent dementia and the progression of mild cognitive impairment.

It also highlights that evidence-based advice should be provided to inform consumer choices regarding the balance of risks and benefits associated with the use of nutritional supplements claimed to protect cognition in late life, before or after the onset of dementia.

The report also suggests that the problem of undernutrition has been grossly neglected so far both in research and practice. Professor Prince, from King’s College London, comments, “While weight loss in dementia is very common and can be an intrinsic part of the disease, it is avoidable and we should be doing much more to tackle the problem.”

Read the report