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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 304014, 13 pages
Research Article

The Role of Lifestyle Behaviors on 20-Year Cognitive Decline

1MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, London WC1B 5JU, UK
2Faculty of Population Health Sciences, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
3School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia
4MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, 120 Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK

Received 16 March 2012; Revised 27 May 2012; Accepted 3 July 2012

Academic Editor: Allison A. M. Bielak

Copyright © 2012 D. Cadar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study examined the association between smoking, physical activity and dietary choice at 36 and 43 years, and change in these lifestyle behaviors between these ages, and decline in verbal memory and visual search speed between 43 and 60–64 years in 1018 participants from MRC National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD, the British 1946 birth cohort). ANCOVA models were adjusted for sex, social class of origin, childhood cognition, educational attainment, adult social class, and depression; then the lifestyle behaviors were additionally mutually adjusted. Results showed that healthy dietary choice and physical activity were associated, respectively, with slower memory and visual search speed decline over 20 years, with evidence that increasing physical activity was important. Adopting positive health behaviors from early midlife may be beneficial in reducing the rate of cognitive decline and ultimately reducing the risk of dementia.