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The association between macronutrient intake and cognition in individuals aged under 65 in China: a cross-sectional study
  1. Bingjie Ding1,
  2. Rong Xiao2,
  3. Weiwei Ma2,
  4. Lei Zhao3,
  5. Yanxia Bi1,
  6. Yong Zhang4
  1. 1 Department of Clinical Nutrition, Beijing Friendship Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
  2. 2 School of Public Health, Beijing Key Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
  3. 3 Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa, USA
  4. 4 Department of Chronic Disease, Daxing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Rong Xiao; xiaor1222{at} and Dr Weiwei Ma; zibeikeweiwei{at}


Objective The aim of this retrospective study was to explore the correlation between daily energy intake from macronutrients and cognitive functions in a Chinese population aged less than 65 years.

Design This is a cross-sectional study to explore the relationships between macronutrients' intake and cognitive function. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) and χ2 test were used to compare the demographic and physical characteristics, lifestyle and laboratory parameters with the intake of macronutrients among different quartiles of % fat/energy. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was applied to identify the potential risk factors of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Participants Young and middle-aged participants (age <65 years) were recruited from Beijing, China. The Montreal cognitive assessment (MoCA) and mini-mental state examination (MMSE) were used to evaluate the cognitive functions, and the dietary intake of the participants was estimated with a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).

Results Among the 661 participants, 80 (12.1%) had MCI, while 581 (87.9%) had normal cognitive functions. On evaluating the data based on the age group, educational background, and conditions of hyperlipidaemia and total energy intake, the results revealed that high % fat (upper quartile: adjusted OR (aOR) 3.90, 95% CI1.53 to 9.89, P=0.004), and high % protein intake (upper quartile: aOR 2.77, 95% CI 1.24 to 6.15) were greatly associated with increased frequency of MCI, while high % carbohydrate intake (upper quartile: aOR0.30, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.72) was correlated with decreased prevalence of MCI.

Conclusion The dietary pattern with high percentage of energy intake from fat and protein, and low-energy intake from carbohydrate might have been associated with cognitive decline in a Chinese population under 65 years of age.

  • dietary pattern
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • macronutrients
  • energy intake

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  • Contributors WWM and RX conceived and designed the study, YZ and BJD collected the data, BJD performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript, LZ drafted and revised the manuscript and YXB helped in collection and analysis of the data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81472982 and 81773406), Support Project of High-level Teachers in Beijing Municipal Universities in the Period of 13th Five-year Plan (grant No.CIT&TCD201704096) and Scientific Research Common Program of Beijing Municipal Commission of Education (grant No.KM201710025007).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval All experimental procedures were conducted in accordance with the guidelines in the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the Ethics Committee of Capital Medical University, Beijing(No.2014SY33).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The materials and datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.