Health In Focus
  • The risk of developing dementia in low and middle-income countries can be reduced by half, reveals a recent study
  • A third of dementia cases are attributable to nine modifiable (i.e., can be controlled) risk factors including low education, smoking, hearing loss, obesity, hypertension, physical inactivity, depression, social isolation and diabetes
  • The prevalence of dementia associated with these risk factors in China is 40 percent, 41 percent in India and 56 percent in Latin America; managing these can significantly reduce dementia cases in these nations

Dementia risk can be significantly reduced in low and middle-income nations if certain modifiable risk factors are addressed earlier, as per a recent study in the University College London (UCL), UK. The study was led by Dr Naaheed Mukadam, Department of Psychiatry UCL.

Dr Mukadam, said: "After our previous research finding that one in three cases of dementia could be preventable, we realized that the evidence was skewed towards higher-income countries."
Dementia can be Prevented in Asia and Latin America: Here’s How

The findings, of the study appear in The Lancet Global Health, suggesting that improvement of education levels and other health outcomes can greatly reduce the risk of dementia in the developing nations.

Modifiable Risk Factors & Dementia in Developing Nations of Asia & Latin America

  • A team of scientists from UCL obtained data from China, India and Latin America with sample size ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 in each of these nations.
  • They hoped to determine the prevalence of dementia cases linked to the previously identified nine modifiable risk factors in these regions and if the risk factors were different compared to the developed world
  • A major difference in the incidence of risk factors was the lower levels of education in these countries compared to the west, and with improved education, dementia cases may see a decrease
  • By contrast, social isolation is a major risk factor for dementia in developed nations, but markedly lesser in China, India and Latin America. Health officials in the UK and west can learn from these nations to enable better-connected communities to reduce the risk of dementia caused by social isolation
  • Other strong risk factors that could be addressed included obesity and deafness in mid-life, physical inactivity in the elderly, smoking in old age in India and hypertension in middle age in China and Latin America
"Reducing the prevalence of all of these risk factors clearly has numerous health benefits, so here we've identified an added incentive to support public health interventions that could also reduce dementia rates. The growing global health burden of dementia is an urgent priority, so anything that could reduce dementia risk could have an immense social and economic benefit," said Dr Mukadam.

Scope of the Study

  • Study identifies risk factors more relevant in developing nations compared to developed world suggesting that research should be inclusive in order to develop effective global health strategies
  • Addressing the risk factors and delaying the onset of dementia by five years can reduce the prevalence of dementia which will be a major achievement


A significant reduction in dementia cases can be achieved in developing nations of Asia and Latin America if modifiable risk factors such as low education levels and medical conditions such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and hearing loss are promptly addressed.

References :
  1. Dementia prevention in low-income and middle-income countries: a cautious step forward - (

Source: Medindia

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