Brain Stamps

Not eating affects our mood, but what about our brains?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

As we age, our cognitive abilities slowly decline. This impacts memory, learning, decision making, attention, and other things I can’t quite remember. What we do know? Low access to food can speed up deterioration in older adults.

Muzi Na and colleagues at Penn State University dug in further.

For EIGHT years, they studied almost THREE THOUSAND adults aged sixty-five and up. The team recorded about FORTY percent lacked food security. They also tested the memory and cognitive function of their participants. Think recalling words, drawing everyday objects, and measuring present-day awareness.

Results? Older adults with less access to food had worsening memory and cognitive performance. Their memory ranked about four years older than adults with more food access. One solution to slowing the decline? Using federal food stamps.

The researchers believe food stamp participation could do more than stamp out hunger. 

And that’s a SMART idea, so get with the PROGRAM!]


Nam, M., Dou, N., Brown, M.J., Chen-Edinboro, L.P., Anderson, L.R., Wennberg, A. Food Insufficiency, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Status, and 9-Year Trajectory of Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Longitudinal National Health and Aging Trends Study, 2012–2020. J Nutr, 153 (2023).