Dementia warning: Cases forecast to triple globally by 2050 – but a healthy diet can help

Dementia: Doctor outlines changes to help prevent disease

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Dementia already affects more than 850,000 people across the UK, diagnosed in one in 14 people above the age of 65. Globally, some 50 million people are presently estimated to have dementia – and the figures are expected to triple in the next 30 years. Data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates nearly 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

Between five and eight percent of the world’s population aged 60 and over is affected by dementia “at any given time”.

A new report published at this year’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) has now warned dementia cases are going to triple by 2050.

The dire forecast means more than 152 million people will suffer from extensive memory loss and other symptoms.

The increase has been attributed to the rising number of people living with dementia in low and middle-income countries.

In particular, experts predict dementia cases will skyrocket in the Middle East, North Africa and eastern sub-Saharan Africa by 2050.

The forecasts include an expected 6.8 million cases brought on by smoking, high blood sugar and a high body mass index (BMI).

But there is a silver lining: better education and healthier lifestyle choices are predicted to decrease global dementia prevalence by 6.2 million cases.

Dr Maria C. Carrillo, Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer, said: “Improvements in lifestyle in adults in developed countries and other places – including increasing access to education and greater attention to heart health issues – have reduced incidence in recent years, but total numbers with dementia are still going up because of the ageing of the population.

“In addition, obesity, diabetes and sedentary lifestyles in younger people are rising quickly, and these are risk factors for dementia.”

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The report was presented this week at the conference, which was held in Denver, US, and virtually.

The figures are worrying because data published by the US National Institute on Aging suggests the planet’s population is ageing.

About 16 percent of the world’s population will be above the age of 65 by 2050 – double the figures in 2010.

According to other reports presented at the AAIC 2021, 10 in 100,000 people are expected to develop early-onset dementia before the age of 65.

These figures will account for about 350,000 new cases of early-onset dementia worldwide each year.

Data collected in the US has also shown an increase in mortality rates for Alzheimer’s from 1999 to 20210.

Deaths have nearly doubled from 16 to 30 per 100,000 – an 88 percent increase.

Stevie Hendriks, MSc, student at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said: “Our findings should raise awareness in the healthcare professionals, researchers and policymakers because they show that a significant number of people are newly affected by young-onset dementia every year.

“This shows the need for investment in tailored healthcare for this special patient group and more research into how we can best support but also prevent and treat young-onset dementia.”

According to the NHS, there are few lifestyle changes you can introduce to your daily routine to lower your risk of dementia.

You should start by eliminating risk factors, such as unhealthy eating, lack of exercise and environmental factors like smoking.

The NHS said: “Experts agree that what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain.”

This means you should eat a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, keep your blood pressure at a healthy level and reduce your alcohol intake.

The NHS added: “There’s no certain way to prevent all types of dementia, as researchers are still investigating how the condition develops.

“However, there’s good evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing dementia when you’re older.”

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