Dietary intake and cognitive function of lead exposed workers

Danit Rivka Shahar*, Paul Froom, Avner Shahar, Estela Kristal-Boneh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The study purpose was to examine the relationship of dietary intake and cognitive function of lead exposed workers. Design: A cross-sectional study. Materials and Methods: The study population included 135 male workers who were screened twice in one year, during winter and summer time. Health-related variables, which included dietary intake and cognitive functioning (MMSE) score, were evaluated. Owing to seasonal differences in dietary intake, it was assessed twice, at winter and at summer time. The average dietary intake of both seasons was used in the analyses. Results: Total energy, cholesterol, carbohydrates and sugar intake were significantly and negatively associated with MMSE score, while fruit intake was positively associated with MMSE score. Odds ratio (OR) calculations to predict cognitive impairment were significant only for sugar intake (2.04 for the ratio of highest intake to the lowest intake). Conclusions: Our study supports the theories connecting overeating with cognitive decline. The study demonstrated that cognitive function was negatively associated with three parameters of excess nutrient intake, namely energy, cholesterol and carbohydrates. This effect may be mediated through excess sensitivity to lead toxicity or may be inherent to overeating itself. Further studies are needed to clarify this relationship and estimate its pertinence to other studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive function
  • Dietary intake
  • Lead exposure
  • Occupational hazard


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