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Stuff the Belly, Starve the Mind, Study Finds


Here's something to think about before you hit the all-you-can-eat buffet: Mayo Clinic researchers found that overeating doubles the risk of memory loss in those age 70 and over.

The study looked at 1,200 adults, ages 70 to 89, none with dementia, but 163 with mild cognitive impairment.

The researchers found that those who ate more than 2,142 calories a day had nearly twice the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) compared to those who ate fewer than 1,526 calories a day, according to study author Yonas Geda, M.D., a neuropsychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"The higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI," Geda said in a prepared statement. "Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age."

Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate stage between normal forgetfulness as we age and the more pronounced decline of dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic. It increases your risk of later developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, although some people never get worse and some can get better.

In the study, participants were divided into three groups based on their daily caloric consumption. A third of the group ate between 600 and 1,526 calories per day, another third consumed between 1,526 and 2,143, and one-third stuffed themselves with between 2,143 and 6,000 calories daily.

The researchers found those in the highest calorie group had the greatest risk of having MCI -- more than double of those who consumed the least. There was no significant risk in the middle group.

The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in New Orleans in April.

In other health news:

Should you avoid teaching hospitals? A Medicare study finds a higher rate of complications at teaching hospitals, the Washington Post reports, and Medicare has begun publishing the rates of complications as a step toward using them to set payment rates for thousands of hospitals. The heads of those hospitals, however, strongly dispute the findings. Medicare has published the information on its Hospital Compare Web site (

FDA investigates as more dogs sickened by chicken jerky pet treats. And let's guess where those pet treats are from. Yup, China. More than 500 dogs have been sickened by chicken jerky pet treats imported from China, reports, and government health officials are ramping up port inspections for dangerous toxins.

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