Are dieting-related cognitive impairments a function of iron status?

Michael W. Green*, Nicola A. Elliman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the impairments in cognitive function observed in unsupported dieting are related to compromised Fe status. During a non-clinical intervention, overweight participants (age: 18-45 years, BMI: 25-30 kg/m2) either participated in a commercially available weight-loss regimen (n 14), dieted without support (n 17) or acted as a non-dieting control group (n 14) for a period of 8 weeks. Measurements of cognitive function and blood chemistry were taken at a pre-diet baseline, after 1 week and 8 weeks of dieting. After 1 week, unsupported dieters displayed impaired verbal memory, executive function and slower reaction speeds than the other two groups, this difference disappearing by the end of the study. There were no significant group-related changes in blood chemistry over the course of the study, although there were group-related changes in a number of self-reported food-related cognitions. In conclusion, impaired cognition among unsupported dieters is not due to compromised Fe status and is most likely to result from psychological variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date14 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2013


  • cognition
  • dietary support
  • dieting
  • iron metabolism


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