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Aim: The increasing prevalence of dementia and the nutritional complications associated with dementia suggest an increasing need for health care that focuses on nutrition and dietetic support. The aim of this paper was to summarise existing evidence relating to nutrition in the aetiology, prevention and management of dementia in order to help inform dietitians in the provision of care to people with dementia, their families and carers.
Methods: A literature search was undertaken to identify relevant research that investigated the nutritional aetiology of dementia, the effectiveness of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of dementia, or strategies used by carers to provide nutrition-related support to people with dementia.
Results: There is currently insufficient evidence to support specific nutrition-related dementia causality. The role of specific nutrients in slowing cognitive decline in people with dementia is also unclear. People with dementia rarely maintain a stable body weight and often incur numerous feeding-related challenges that contribute to the risk of malnutrition. High-calorie dietary supplements may enhance the short-term energy intake of people with dementia but are unlikely to improve long-term weight management or other dementia-related outcomes.
Conclusions: Practical, achievable strategies that focus on food items and eating environments to promote oral intake of people with dementia while minimising carer burden should be a focus for nutrition and dietetic interventions.