The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 23, Issue 10, pp 923–929 | Cite as

Nutritional Status and Cognitive Impairment among the Very Old in a Community Sample from Southern Brazil

  • João SengerEmail author
  • N. M. Bruscato
  • B. Werle
  • E. H. Moriguchi
  • M. P. Pattussi



To determine which factors, especially those related to nutrition, are associated with cognitive function in the oldest old, here considered those at least 80 years of age.


A cross-sectional, population-based study.


Veranópolis, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and surrounding rural areas.


Individuals aged 80 years and older.


The Mini Nutritional Assessment, anthropometric measurements, and serum levels of albumin and vitamin B12 were associated with cognitive function according to the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Clock Drawing Test (CDT). Sociodemographic data were obtained through a structured questionnaire. Multivariate analysis was used to determine the associations.


According to the MMSE and the CDT, the prevalence of cognitive impairment was 47.7% [95%CI 39.7–55.7] and 58.2% [95%CI 50.3–66.1], respectively. In the adjusted analysis, the only positive linear association with MMSE scores indicating cognitive impairment was age. However, CDT scores indicating cognitive impairment were five times higher among those with low serum vitamin B12 concentrations. For the other variables, there was a positive association between age, being widowed, a low educational level and central nervous system drugs. Being single, living with children and living alone were protective factors for cognitive impairment.


Although cognitive impairment was positively associated with old age, being widowed and low educational level in this population, the only nutritional variable positively associated with cognitive impairment was a low vitamin B12 concentration.

Key words

Cognitive aging older adults nutritional status vitamin B12 


Compliance with Ethical Standards: This study adhered to the ethical principles involved in studies of this nature and was conducted in accordance with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments as well as with Resolution 466/12 of the National Health Council. Prior to data collection, ethical approval was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of the Universidade do Vale dos Sinos (São Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil). All participants gave informed consent prior to participation, and all information about the participants was kept strictly confidential.

Conflict of Interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Financial disclosure: The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag International SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • João Senger
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • N. M. Bruscato
    • 2
  • B. Werle
    • 2
  • E. H. Moriguchi
    • 1
  • M. P. Pattussi
    • 1
  1. 1.Post Graduation Program in Public HealthUniversidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS)São LeopoldoBrazil
  2. 2.Associação Veranense de Assistência em Saúde (AVAES)VeranópolisBrazil
  3. 3.São LeopoldoBrazil

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