Metabolic Syndrome Linked to Reduced Neurocognitive Function in Midlife

Brain nerve cell
Brain nerve cell
Researchers found that metabolic syndrome was associated with lower neurocognitive function, particularly among middle-aged adults.

Metabolic syndrome is associated with reduced neurocognitive functioning, and this is particularly prevalent in middle-aged adults, according to a new study in Diabetes Care.1

Previous research has found associations between metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer disease and related dementias and neurocognitive decline in older adults, although this was primarily observed in individuals with high levels of inflammatory biomarkers.2-4 

In the current study, the authors looked at the association between neurocognitive function, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation in a population of middle-aged and older Hispanic and Latino people.

Data were used from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, a large epidemiologic study of Hispanic/Latino men and women from diverse backgrounds. The cohort included 9136 individuals between the ages of 45 and 74 years.

Overall, those with metabolic syndrome had lower average global neurocognitive performance and were more likely to satisfy criteria for low mental status. In models adjusted for gender and age, metabolic syndrome remained inversely associated with global neurocognition (β =-0.07 [standard error [SE] 0.023]), Digit Symbol Subtest (β =-0.15 [SE 0.022]), Brief Spanish English Verbal Learning Test  sum (β =-0.07 [SE 0.025]), but not with Brief Spanish English Verbal Learning Test  recall or mental status.

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When adjusted by additional covariates, all associations remained robust and there was no evidence that inflammation moderated associations between metabolic syndrome and neurocognition in this population.

“Preventing and managing metabolic syndrome in this vulnerable population has important public health implications,” the authors concluded.




  1. González HM, Tarraf W, Vásquez P, et al. Metabolic syndrome and neurocognition among diverse middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos: HCHS/SOL results [published online May 1, 2018]. Diabetes Care. doi: 10.2337/dc17-1896
  2. Taylor VH, MacQueen GM. Cognitive dysfunction associated with metabolic syndrome. Obes Rev. 2007;8:409-418.
  3. Yaffe K, Haan M, Blackwell T, Cherkasova E, Whitmer RA, West N. Metabolic syndrome and cognitive decline in elderly Latinos: findings from the Sacramento area Latino study of aging study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007;55:758-762.
  4. Yaffe K, Kanaya A, Lindquist K, et al. The metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and risk of cognitive decline. JAMA. 2004;292:2237-2242.