Cognitive Neuroscience


Nature Aging




Formal publication: June 2024

Authors: Ibanez A, Maito M, Botero-Rodríguez F, Fittipaldi S, Coronel C, Migeot J, Lacroix A, Lawlor B, Duran-Aniotz C, Baez S, Santamaria-Garcia H

Abstract: Models of healthy aging are typically based on the United States and Europe and may not apply to diverse and heterogeneous populations. In this study, our objectives were to conduct a meta-analysis to assess risk factors of cognition and functional ability across aging populations in Latin America and a scoping review focusing on methodological procedures. Our study design included randomized controlled trials and cohort, case–control and cross-sectional studies using multiple databases, including MEDLINE, the Virtual Health Library and Web of Science. From an initial pool of 455 studies, our meta-analysis included 38 final studies (28 assessing cognition and 10 assessing functional ability, n = 146,000 participants). Our results revealed significant but heterogeneous effects for cognition (odds ratio (OR) = 1.20, P = 0.03, confidence interval (CI) = (1.0127, 1.42); heterogeneity: I2 = 92.1%, CI = (89.8%, 94%)) and functional ability (OR = 1.20, P = 0.01, CI = (1.04, 1.39); I2 = 93.1%, CI = (89.3%, 95.5%)). Specific risk factors had limited effects, especially on functional ability, with moderate impacts for demographics and mental health and marginal effects for health status and social determinants of health. Methodological issues, such as outliers, inter-country differences and publication bias, influenced the results. Overall, we highlight the specific profile of risk factors associated with healthy aging in Latin America. The heterogeneity in results and methodological approaches in studying healthy aging call for greater harmonization and further regional research to understand healthy aging in Latin America.