This Change In Food Preferences Can Be An Early Indicator Of Dementia

<span class="copyright">Bevan Goldswain via Getty Images</span>
Bevan Goldswain via Getty Images

Despite the fact that, according to Alzheimer’s Society, one in three people born in the UK today will be diagnosed with dementia in their lifetime, new findings from Vitality Life have revealed that a third of Brits don’t know what the key symptoms of dementia are.

While more than half of Brits currently know, or have known someone diagnosed with dementia, a third do not know what the key symptoms of dementia to look out for are. And 70% aren’t aware that there are over 200 types of the condition.

When asked about specific symptoms, almost nine in 10 can identify memory loss whereas less than a quarter are aware of the lesser-known potential symptoms such as a preference for sweet food, and loss of smell.

HuffPost UK spoke with Dr Nikita Patel, GP and Associate Medical Director at Vitality Life, to learn more about how a preference for sweet food is a lesser-known symptom of dementia:

How a sweet tooth can be an early sign of dementia

Dr Patel said: “Different types of dementia affect people differently. Even people with the same type of dementia can experience very different symptoms, which can include issues with eating and drinking.

“A less well-known symptom is a change in how people process or experience flavour resulting in a change in their taste preferences. As such, some people may develop a new sweet tooth despite having hated sugar in the past, or they may find themselves desiring something they wouldn’t usually eat, for example a vegetarian may suddenly start craving meat.”

She added that while we are still understanding why and how these changes in preference happen, we can take steps to support it by ensuring people with dementia are eating well and regularly.

This could mean offering sweet potato or parsnips to a relative who now wants to eat sweets all the time will give them a healthier more nutritious option.”

Other lesser-known symptoms of dementia include:

  • Loss of smell 

  • Seizures 

  • Bladder incontinence 

  • Becoming obsessive 

  • Repeated falls & fainting 

  • Visual hallucinations 

  • Appetite and weight loss 

  • Sleep disturbances 

  • Movement problems