An international study by a University of Wolverhampton research team and scientists in the UK, Europe, China, and USA has found that older people who consume more fish have increased their life expectancy. The study of 4,165 participants aged 60 years and older in China reveals that people who consumed fish at least “twice a week” compared to “never eat” over the past two years have a significantly reduced risk of mortality (death from any cause) by 42%.
This study was conducted in five provinces in China to find a significant link between fish consumption in older age and all-cause mortality, mainly in people without dementia. It is uncertain whether it helps people with dementia in terms of improving prognosis and prolonging life. The study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, is a collaboration between scientists at the University of Wolverhampton and the Universities of London and Liverpool, the UK, and Zhengzhou University and Anhui and Guangdong Medical Universities, China, along with colleagues from University of Zurich, Europe and John Hopkins University, USA.
The consumption of fish is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and dementia. Increased consumption of fish in young and middle-aged populations shows reduction in all-cause mortality. However, little is known about the impact of fish intake in older age on all-cause mortality, while the dietary patterns between young-middle and older populations are different whereby older people have reduced fish consumption.
Professor Ruoling Chen, the correspondent author and the guarantor for the study, is Professor of Public Health at the University of Wolverhampton in the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing.
He and colleagues in China interviewed 4,165 residents aged over 60 years old in the rural and urban communities of Anhui, Guangdong, Heilongjiang, Hubei, Shanghai and Shanxi provinces in China to characterise their levels of fish consumption and monitored vital status for up to four years following the interviews. Professor Chen led a Global Health research team in Wolverhampton, UK, including PhD students, senior researchers and clinical staff to examine the large-scale health survey cohort data of China for improving population health worldwide.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the global per capita fish consumption is on average 20 kg/year. It is much lower in lower and middle- income countries than in high-income countries, and in older people.
Professor Chen, Head of Population Health Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We are recommending that older people increase their level of fish consumption to prolong their life, although people with dementia may not benefit from increased consumption of fish for survival.
“This study data, together with our previous research project findings, suggest that it would be better to increase the consumption of fish in older people in general, prior to the development of dementia in the hope of preventing dementia and reducing all-cause mortality worldwide.”
Paper title - ‘Impact of fish consumption on all-cause mortality in older people with and without Dementia: a community-based cohort study’