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Mediterranean Diet, Weight Loss, and Cognition in Obese Older Adults

Active, not recruiting

Obesity is associated with a higher risk of health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes, and may be a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. This study will test the effects of a Mediterranean diet and caloric restriction to promote weight loss and improve cognitive function in obese older adults.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
55 Years 85 Years All Yes
September 1, 2016
March 1, 2021

  • Body Mass Index of 30-49
  • Minimal levels of cognitive impairment
  • Access to a phone
  • Resident of the Chicago area for the next 14 months
  • Fluent in English

  • Montreal Cognitive Assessment score of less than 19 
  • Kidney disease
  • Autoimmune disorder or immunodeficiency
  • Malabsorptive disorder
  • Gastrointestinal or hepatic disease
  • Severe ischemic heart disease, pulmonary disease, or bariatric surgery
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
  • Cancer treatment within the past 12 months
  • Weight greater than 450 pounds
  • Diagnosed sleep apnea and regularly using a continuous positive airway pressure therapy machine
  • Currently adhering to a Mediterranean diet
  • Currently on a weight-loss diet or involved in a formal weight-loss program

Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet, consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, olive oil, seafood, and nuts, is associated with less cognitive decline and reduced risk for dementia in older adults. Weight loss through caloric restriction also has been shown to improve cognitive function in obese adults. Researchers believe that a Mediterranean diet combined with weight loss through caloric restriction will result in greater improvements in cognition than a typical diet or a Mediterranean diet alone.

Participants will be randomly assigned to one of three groups:

  • Mediterranean diet without caloric restriction/weight loss for 8 months, including 22 60-minute classes on the Mediterranean diet and how to adhere to it
  • Mediterranean diet with caloric restriction/weight loss for 8 months, including 22 90-minute classes on the diet, exercising, and eating fewer calories
  • Typical diet with current eating and activity habits for 14 months

Researchers will measure changes in cognition, heart disease and metabolic risk factors, body composition, systemic inflammation, and oxidative stress. The investigators also will look at the extent to which changes in dietary habits, weight, and cognitive functioning are maintained over a 6-month follow-up period.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
University Of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago Illinois 60608

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Name Phone Email
Marian Fitzgibbon, PhD (312)996-9028
Lara Blumstein 312-996-9028


Mediterranean Diet, Weight Loss, and Cognition in Obese Older Adults