Does Fast Food Cause Dementia?

A team of researchers out of the Australian National University conducted a recent study that suggests simply eating fast food (on a regular basis) could cause dementia.  Actually, the study says it could cause “irreversible” dementia.

The research observed that the average person is eating 650 extra calories every day, over the average caloric consumption in the 1970s. This is roughly equivalent of one fast food meal:  a burger, fries, and soft drink. 

ANU professor Nicolas Cherbuin advises that the findings relate not only to simply eating fast food, but that this consumption must be relatively consistent and is also accompanied by little-to-no physical activity.  The combination of unhealthy eating habits and a near-non-existent exercise regimen, he says, is what leads to this decline in brain function. And that decline, then, leads to things like brain shrinkage and dementia. 

Specifically, Cherbuin notes, “People are eating away at their brain with a really bad fast-food diet and little-to-no exercise.”

The research examined and analyzed data taken from 200 studies, including the Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life project, which tracked brain health and aging among 7000 people.  In parallel, the study also identified that 30 percent of the global population is either overweight or obese; and more than 10 percent of the global adult population will develop type 2 diabetes by the year 2030.

Cherbuin also makes sure to note that this research links rapid brain function deterioration with type 2 diabetes. And altogether, this stems from unhealthy life choices.  Making simple, positive changes to your life—as soon as possible—is the best way to not only reduce this type of risk but to bring about a better quality of life overall. 

He goes on to say, “Many people who have dementia and other signs of cognitive dysfunction, including shrinking brains, have increased their risk throughout life by eating too much bad food and not exercising enough.”

The most important takeaway from this study, then, is that whatever damage is done to the brain as a result of this fast food diet is irreversible.  Once you reach the midlife years, Cherbuin says, there is nothing you can do about it. Because of this, then, he says it is important that everyone adopt better eating habits (and maybe get some consistent exercise).