We aimed to examine the association between chili intake and cognitive function in Chinese adults. This is a longitudinal study of 4852 adults (age 63.4 ± 7.7) attending the China Health and Nutrition Survey during 1991 and 2006. Cognitive function was assessed in 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006. In total, 3302 completed cognitive screening tests in at least two surveys. Chili intake was assessed by a 3-day food record during home visits in each survey between 1991 and 2006. Multivariable mixed linear regression and logistic regression were used. Chili intake was inversely related to cognitive function. In fully adjusted models, including sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, compared with non-consumers, those whose cumulative average chili intake above 50 g/day had the regression coefficients (and 95% CI) for global cognitive function of −1.13 (−1.71–0.54). Compared with non-consumers, those with chili consumption above 50 g/day had the odds ratio (and 95% CI) of 2.12(1.63–2.77), 1.56(1.23–1.97) for self-reported poor memory and self-reported memory decline, respectively. The positive association between chili intake and cognitive decline was stronger among those with low BMI than those with high BMI. The longitudinal data indicate that higher chili intake is positively associated with cognitive decline in Chinese adults in both genders.
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