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How does diet affect cognitive function?

Reach study


Research opportunity in Auckland area – The REACH Study Update

We all want to keep good cognitive health as we age and diet is a key factor that can help us achieve this. But what dietary pattern is best? This is what researchers at Massey University in Albany are hoping to find out.

Dr Kathryn Beck, the lead scientist on the study says “I’m fascinated with how we can use food to improve our health, well-being and performance. Traditionally, nutrition research has focused on individual foods and nutrients. However, this has several limitations as people don’t eat foods and nutrients in isolation – they eat combinations of foods as meals or snacks to form an overall dietary pattern. The REACH study will use a dietary pattern approach to investigate associations between dietary intake and cognitive function. A dietary pattern approach reflects the complexity of the diet and how foods are eaten in combination.”

The REACH study has been going for six months and is over halfway in recruiting the 360 participants needed, but it still needs more. Study days are running until the end of the year. Is it for you? Here are what other participants have had to say about taking part:

“what a fascinating study, it is interesting to be a small part of it”

“I enjoyed the day”

“I found the (cognitive) exercises quite fun.”

If you are interested in participating you must be between 65-74yrs, able to attend one testing morning at the Human Nutrition Unit in Albany and meet the study eligibility criteria.

To say thank you, participants will receive a $50 voucher, breakfast and a copy of their body composition, blood lipid, blood glucose and blood pressure assessments.

Can you help?

The REACH study is currently looking for participants who: 

  • are 65-74 years of age
  • are living independently (not requiring assistance with daily activities or 24/7 skilled nursing)
  • are proficient in English
  • have not had a diagnosis of dementia.
  • do not have or have had any of the following conditions which may cause impairments in cognitive function: stroke, traumatic head/brain injury, a neurological or psychiatric condition.
  • Are not be colour blind.
  • Are not taking medication which may influence cognitive function.

Due to the type of study, this is we can only include one person from any household. However, you are welcome to bring a family member or support person with you.

Participants will be required to:

  • Complete a short screening questionnaire
  • Visit the Massey University Human Nutrition Research Unit in Albany to:
  • Answer some questionnaires
  • Complete tests measuring cognitive function, grip strength & body composition
  • Provide a small blood sample
  • Complete some questions about your food intake at home

Please click here to register your interest or click here to view the full information sheet

This study is being conducted by the School of Sport, Exercise & Nutrition at Massey University. Please note the GrownUps is not responsible for the study and participants take part in the research at their own risk. 

This project has been reviewed and approved by the Massey University Human Ethics Committee: Southern A, Application 17/69. If you have any concerns about the conduct of this research, please contact Dr Lesley Batten, Chair, Massey University Human Ethics Committee: Southern A, telephone 06 356 9099 x 85094, email