Worldwide dementia cases to triple by 2050 if risk factors aren’t addressed
A recent study published in The Lancet Public Health estimated that by 2050 global dementia cases will have tripled from 2019 if risk factors for the condition are not properly addressed.
The study was done by The Global Burden of Disease and forecasted that dementia cases will go up from an estimated 57 million cases in 2019 to 153 million cases in 2050. The study analyzed 204 countries and observed the impact of four risk factors including obesity, smoking, low education, and high blood sugar, on future rates of dementia.
Researchers determined that an increase in future dementia cases would primarily be caused by population growth and aging. The study found that the ratio between dementia cases in men and women would remain relatively constant, with women showing higher rates of dementia to men. Researchers also observed that depending on region, dementia cases were estimated to increase at different rates. For example, North Africa and the Middle East, areas with high rates of population growth, showed the highest increase with an estimated 367 percent more dementia cases in 2050 compared to 2019. The smallest percentage changes were seen in Pacific Asia and Western Europe, both high income areas, with 53 percent and 74 percent dementia case increases, respectively.
In addition, the study found that obesity, high blood sugar, and smoking are expected to contribute to 6.8 million dementia cases by 2050, surpassing the 6.2 million dementia cases researchers estimated would be prevented from improvements in global education.
The study was limited by a lack of high-quality health data from several regions as well as different standards for dementia diagnoses among counties. Researchers also ignored clinical subtypes of dementia and analyzed only four of the 12 risk factors associated with condition, both factors that could have influenced the accuracy of the study’s estimates. Nevertheless, the study offered a preliminary forecast of future dementia case numbers and underscored the importance of enacting preventative measures against the condition’s risk factors.