HealthDay News — Focused eating habits with high processed meats and unhealthy snacking may be associated with increased dementia risk, according to a study published online April 22 in Neurology.

Cécilia Samieri, Ph.D., from the University of Bordeaux in France, and colleagues modeled complex diet relationships a decade before dementia onset in a large French cohort. Cases of dementia incident to the baseline food frequency questionnaire were identified over 12 years of follow-up. For each case, two matched controls were randomly selected among individuals at risk at the age at case diagnosis. Data were included for 209 cases and 418 controls.

The researchers found that food networks differed substantially between cases and controls, although there were few differences in simple, average food intakes. In cases, the network was focused and characterized by charcuterie as the main hub, with connections to typical French southwestern diet foods and snack foods. Among controls, several disconnected subnetworks were identified within the network, reflecting diverse and healthier food choices.

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“Our findings suggest that network approaches provide a complementary set of tools that can augment the approaches that are currently widely used in nutritional epidemiology, providing additional information that can help us to disentangle the complexity of diet/biology in health and disease,” the authors write. “The use of network science should certainly be promoted in further dementia research.”

The study was partially funded by Sanofi-Aventis.

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