Eat well, exercise more: New global guidelines to reduce risk of dementia

15 May, 2019, 19:39 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • To reduce dementia risk eating well and exercising do more than puzzles and pills

In addition, the report noted that even though age is a major risk factor for dementia, cognitive decline is not an inevitable effect of old age.

New guidelines based on analysis of decades of research found that physical inactivity, smoking, eating an unhealthy diet and drinking excessive alcohol significantly increased the threat of diseases such as Alzheimer's.

A report by Alzheimer Disease International said 2.13 million people were living with dementia in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015. He highlighted the condition as a global health priority.

Dementia affects around 50 million people globally, with almost 10 million new cases annually - a figure that is set to triple by 2050, while the cost of caring for dementia patients is expected to hit $2 trillion by 2030, WHO Assistant Director General Ren Minghui wrote in the report.

"The costs of caring for people with dementia are estimated to rise to two trillion US dollars annually by 2030", the organisation said.

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Much of the WHO's advice is common sense, and echoes what the US National Institute on Aging says.

Stopping smoking, a healthy diet and avoiding harmful use of alcohol were also among the recommendations of the WHO's report, entitled "Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia". But they take a firm stance against vitamin B or E pills, fish oil or multi-complex supplements that are promoted for brain health because there's strong research showing they don't work.

According to World Health Organization spokesperson Neerja Chowdhary, the study did not take into account the effect of smoking marijuana or environmental factors on the risk of dementia, although there is some evidence that poor sleep and pollution may also be linked to dementia. These can be considered for people with normal capacities or mild impairment, but there's low to very low evidence of benefit.

"We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia", Ghebreyesus said.

It is a rapidly growing public health problem affecting around 50 million people globally.

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