Diet and exercise research secures $1.7 million

Healthy food on a tabletop.

Adherence to a Mediterranean diet alongside regular exercise could reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

A Swinburne-led clinical trial exploring the cognitive effects of adhering to a Mediterranean diet alongside regular exercise has been awarded $1.7 million in National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

The funding enables Swinburne, alongside leading Australian and international institutions, to extend a successful, six-month trial to two years.

The trial explores the effects of a combination of a Mediterranean diet and daily exercise on reducing cognitive decline and other dementia risk factors in older Australians.

It aims to investigate the underlying factors responsible for reducing dementia risk and the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.

Head of Neurocognitive Ageing Research at Swinburne’s Centre for Human Psychopharmacology and Chief Investigator, Professor Andrew Pipingas, says this trial is about trying to prevent the onset of dementia.

“As it’s extremely difficult to find a cure and treat those in the later stages of the disease, focusing our efforts on helping those at risk of developing dementia to stay healthy is one-way to ensure Australians stay well in future.”

Professor Pipingas says this study could reveal a cost-effective way to help manage the ongoing costs of dementia on healthcare systems.

“We’re looking at potentially saving billions of dollars for the health industry. The issue of dementia is going to continue to be a huge deal as we face an ageing population, with up to one trillion dollars being spent on treating dementia over the next 40 years.”

The trial builds on existing literature exploring the relation of diet and exercise on brain function.

Swinburne is leading the trial alongside University of South Australia, La Trobe University, Deakin University, Murdoch University, Sheffield Hallam University and University of East Anglia.

The funding will be allocated over four years with an approved budget of $1,772,616 provided by the NHRMC.

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