What should balanced dementia risk reduction look like?

2 min read

What should balanced dementia risk reduction look like? A new expert research group recommend ‘whole-population-based approaches’

So far, dementia prevention policies around the world have largely focused on interventions that target individuals who are at high risk of the disease.

Through individual-level approaches, researchers can engage people who are likely to be impacted by dementia (such as) so that they can become educated about their risk and then take action to reduce it.

This approach is necessary and can also be a way for researchers to gain valuable information on dementia prevention with new evidence that emerges from these studies. However, it relies on ‘conscious behavioural change’ which often requires resources that aren’t available to everyone. This approach can even widen inequalities!

An international research group of experts (Walsh et al., 2022) recommend adopting population-based approaches, which aim to reduce everyone’s risk via ‘unconscious behavioural change’.  This is done by making healthy lifestyles convenient and accessible to all. 

Image: Walsh et al, 2022

But why is this so important for dementia prevention in particular?

Well, dementia prevalence is on the rise with over 55 million cases of dementia globally. This is the result of being exposed to risk factors (like smoking, air pollution, head trauma, and obesity) gradually and progressively over time as an individual develops from childhood, into adulthood, and through to their later years.

And this disproportionately affects low and middle-income countries too! With coordination across governments and industries, and new policies which support disadvantaged areas and populations, population-based approaches may reduce health inequalities globally and decrease the prevalence of dementia worldwide.

“Whole-population-based approaches affect the contexts and environments in which people live, work, and play.”

What’s new? A new expert research group created in 2022... 

In 2017, The International Research Network on Dementia Prevention (IRNDP) was established to link researchers together to foster new research across the globe for dementia prevention. In 2022, a new expert IRNDP research group has been established that focuses on resource-constrained contexts, aiming to address inequalities in dementia prevalence and prevention by balancing the global approach to dementia risk reduction. 

Want to read the full article?

Follow the link below to read this study on the Lancet.

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