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Mediterranean diet adherence is associated with lower dementia risk, independent of genetic predisposition: Findings from the UK Biobank prospective cohort study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Oliver Shannon, Professor Thomas Hill, Professor Ashley AdamsonORCiD, Dr Mario Siervo, Dr Graciela Muniz Terrera, Professor John Mathers, Professor Emma Stevenson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


BACKGROUND: The identification of effective dementia prevention strategies is a major public health priority, due to the enormous and growing societal cost of this condition. Consumption of a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) has been proposed to reduce dementia risk. However, current evidence is inconclusive and is typically derived from small cohorts with limited dementia cases. Additionally, few studies have explored the interaction between diet and genetic risk of dementia. METHODS: We used Cox proportional hazard regression models to explore the associations between MedDiet adherence, defined using two different scores (MedDiet Adherence Screener [MEDAS] continuous and Mediterranean diet Pyramid [PYRAMID] scores), and incident all-cause dementia risk in 60298 participants from UK Biobank, followed for an average 9.1 years. The interaction between diet and polygenic risk for dementia was also tested. RESULTS: Higher MedDiet adherence was associated with lower dementia risk (MEDAS continuous: HR=0.77, 95% CI=0.65-0.91; PYRAMID: HR=0.86, 95% CI=0.73-1.02 for highest versus lowest tertiles). There was no significant interaction between MedDiet adherence defined by the MEDAS continuous and PYRAMID scores and polygenic risk for dementia. CONCLUSIONS: Higher adherence to a MedDiet was associated with lower dementia risk, independent of genetic risk, underlining the importance of diet in dementia prevention interventions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shannon OM, Ranson JM, Gregory S, Macpherson H, Milte C, Lentjes M, Mulligan A, McEvoy C, Griffiths A, Matu J, Hill TR, Adamson A, Siervo M, Minihane AM, Muniz-Tererra G, Ritchie C, Mathers JC, Lewellyn DJ, Stevenson E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Medicine

Year: 2023

Volume: 21

Online publication date: 14/03/2023

Acceptance date: 07/02/2023

Date deposited: 13/02/2023

ISSN (electronic): 1741-7015

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12916-023-02772-3

PubMed id: 36915130


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Funder referenceFunder name
MR/T001852/1Medical Research Council (MRC)