Associations between data-driven lifestyle profiles and cognitive function in the AusDiab study

BMC Public Health. 2022 Nov 29;22(1):1990. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-14379-z.


Background: Mounting evidence highlights the importance of combined modifiable lifestyle factors in reducing risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Several a priori additive scoring approaches have been established; however, limited research has employed advanced data-driven approaches to explore this association. This study aimed to examine the association between data-driven lifestyle profiles and cognitive function in community-dwelling Australian adults.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 4561 Australian adults (55.3% female, mean age 60.9 ± 11.3 years) was conducted. Questionnaires were used to collect self-reported data on diet, physical activity, sedentary time, smoking status, and alcohol consumption. Cognitive testing was undertaken to assess memory, processing speed, and vocabulary and verbal knowledge. Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) was conducted to identify subgroups characterised by similar patterns of lifestyle behaviours. The resultant subgroups, or profiles, were then used to further explore associations with cognitive function using linear regression models and an automatic Bolck, Croon & Hagenaars (BCH) approach.

Results: Three profiles were identified: (1) "Inactive, poor diet" (76.3%); (2) "Moderate activity, non-smokers" (18.7%); and (3) "Highly active, unhealthy drinkers" (5.0%). Profile 2 "Moderate activity, non-smokers" exhibited better processing speed than Profile 1 "Inactive, poor diet". There was also some evidence to suggest Profile 3 "Highly active, unhealthy drinkers" exhibited poorer vocabulary and verbal knowledge compared to Profile 1 and poorer processing speed and memory scores compared to Profile 2.

Conclusion: In this population of community-dwelling Australian adults, a sub-group characterised by moderate activity levels and higher rates of non-smoking had better cognitive function compared to two other identified sub-groups. This study demonstrates how LPA can be used to highlight sub-groups of a population that may be at increased risk of dementia and benefit most from lifestyle-based multidomain intervention strategies.

Keywords: Australian adults; Cognition; Data-driven; Latent Profile Analysis; Lifestyle patterns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cognition
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged