Sugary beverage intake and preclinical Alzheimer's disease in the community

Alzheimers Dement. 2017 Sep;13(9):955-964. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2017.01.024. Epub 2017 Mar 6.


Introduction: Excess sugar consumption has been linked with Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology in animal models.

Methods: We examined the cross-sectional association of sugary beverage consumption with neuropsychological (N = 4276) and magnetic resonance imaging (N = 3846) markers of preclinical Alzheimer's disease and vascular brain injury (VBI) in the community-based Framingham Heart Study. Intake of sugary beverages was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire.

Results: Relative to consuming less than one sugary beverage per day, higher intake of sugary beverages was associated with lower total brain volume (1-2/day, β ± standard error [SE] = -0.55 ± 0.14 mean percent difference, P = .0002; >2/day, β ± SE = -0.68 ± 0.18, P < .0001), and poorer performance on tests of episodic memory (all P < .01). Daily fruit juice intake was associated with lower total brain volume, hippocampal volume, and poorer episodic memory (all P < .05). Sugary beverage intake was not associated with VBI in a consistent manner across outcomes.

Discussion: Higher intake of sugary beverages was associated cross-sectionally with markers of preclinical AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Dementia; Diet; Framingham Heart Study; Sugar.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology*
  • Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drinking Behavior
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sugars / adverse effects*


  • Sugars