Eating hot dogs, french fries and cookies too regularly could contribute to a higher risk of dementia, according to a new study.
Researchers found that people whose daily diets consisted of more than 20% of ultraprocessed food had a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline and a 25% faster rate of executive function decline compared with people who ate the least amount of overly processed food.
The study also found that participants younger than 60 and ate a high amount of ultraprocessed food were likelier to show signs of global cognitive decline compared with those older than 60 with similar diets.
Researchers hypothesized that a high diet of processed food contributed to cerebrovascular lesions and facilitated the decline in executive function, according to News-Medical. Eating processed food could also lead to inflammation in the brain and subsequently affect functioning, according to the study.
Ultraprocessed food was defined as containing little or no whole food and had additives such as coloring, flavoring or emulsifiers. Examples of ultraprocessed food included hamburgers, sausages, sodas, cakes, doughnuts and ice cream.
“In Brazil, ultraprocessed foods make up 25% to 30% of total calorie intake,” said Dr. Claudia Suemoto, the study’s co-author and an assistant professor in the division of geriatrics at the University of Sao Paulo Medical School, according to Fox News Digital. “We have McDonald’s, Burger King and we eat a lot of chocolate and white bread. It’s not very different, unfortunately, from many other Western countries.”
The study concluded its findings after following over 10,000 Brazilians between ages 35 and 74 over a 10-year period. The average age of a study participant was 52.
Researchers collected data on verbal fluency tests, word recall and word recognition tests periodically throughout the study to examine cognitive functioning.
The study is titled “Association Between Consumption of Ultraprocessed Foods and Cognitive Decline” and was published in the journal JAMA Neurology on Monday.