Experts predict dementia cases will TRIPLE by 2050 to 152.8 million

Experts predict that dementia cases around the world will TRIPLE to 152.8 million by 2050 due to sedentary lifestyles and poor diet

  • Worldwide cases of dementia expected to triple in the next 30 years from 152.8 million in 2019 to 57.4 million in 2015, a new study finds
  • Researchers say this will be due to sedentary lifestyles and poor diet, both of which are dementia risk factors
  • Areas like North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East are expected to be hit the hardest  
  • Mortality rate of Alzheimer’s, the primary cause of dementia, has increased by nearly 40% as well
  • Rural areas in the United States expected to be hit harder than urban areas 

The number of cases of dementia around the world could triple within the next three decades, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of Washington investigated worldwide health data from 1999 and 2019 for the study, and projected the future of dementia using health trends. 

They found lobal dementia case rates are predicted to hit 152.8 million in 2050, compared to only 57.4 million  in 2019, an increase of 166 percent.  

An aging population, and the growth of issues like obesity and high blood sugar could all contribute to high dementia rates.

Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East are the areas projected to see the largest increases. 

Cases of dementia worldwide expected to increase by 166% over the next 30 years to 152.8 million (file image)

‘These estimates will allow policymakers and decision makers to better understand the expected increases in the number of individuals with dementia as well as the drivers of these increases in a given geographical setting,’ Emma Nichols, a researcher at the University of Washington, said.

‘The large anticipated increase in the number of individuals with dementia emphasizes the vital need for research focused on the discovery of disease-modifying treatments and effective low-cost interventions for the prevention or delay of dementia onset.’  

Nichols and her team, who published their findings in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association on Tuesday, found that levels of smoking, high body mass index and high fasting plasma glucose are the primary risk factors that will be responsible for the growth in dementia. 

Not all factors will increase rates of cognitive decline, however.

Due to an overall higher education rate around the world, the researchers believe at least six million people that would have dementia otherwise will not develop the condition.

But the factors that lead to dementia could be more deadly.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. 

The mortality rate from the disease – for which there is not yet a cure – increased by 38 percent from 1999 to 2019.

‘Without effective treatments to stop, slow or prevent Alzheimer’s and all dementia, this number will grow beyond 2050 and continue to impact individuals, caregivers, health systems and governments globally,’ said Dr Maria Carrillo, Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer. 

‘In addition to therapeutics, it’s critical to uncover culturally-tailored interventions that reduce dementia risk through lifestyle factors like education, diet and exercise.’ 

In the United States, rural areas in the south are expected to get hit hardest by the rise of dementia. 

Researchers found the mortality rate from Alzheimer’s in rural areas was three times higher than that of urban areas. 

The gap between rural and urban health care and mortality from chronic conditions is only growing as well, other research has found. 

‘Our work shows that there is an increasing discrepancy in Alzheimer’s mortality between urban and rural areas.’ Dr Ambar Kulshreshtha, a researcher from Emory University School of Medicine, said.

‘This discrepancy could be related to, or might be the result of, other urban-rural health disparities, including access to primary care and other health services, socio-economic level, time to diagnosis, and the rising proportion of older Americans living in these areas.

‘Identifying and understanding the reasons for these health disparities is critical for allocating key social and public health resources appropriately.’ 

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