Alzheimer's disease affects an estimated 2 million elderly in the U.S. and challenges primary care physicians to assist caregivers in dealing with the daily management of these patients. To support the clinical observation of weight loss in Alzheimer patients despite adequate food intake, we reviewed the existing literature. To date, eight international studies have focused on nutrition in Alzheimer's disease and all have found weight loss. It is not clear whether this weight loss is a component of or a consequence of the disease.
These findings suggest systemic, metabolic alterations in Alzheimer's disease. They require further investigation as to their nature and as to their appropriate recognition and management to retard the deteriorating effects of chronic weight loss and malnutrition. Finally, some reports lead to speculation that nutritional strategies may improve cognitive function.