The number of adults with dementia is on a trajectory to triple to 153 million worldwide by 2050—up from 57 million in 2019, a US study published in Lancet Public Health Journal finds. The increase presents a “major and rapidly growing threat to future health and social care systems,” The Guardian reports.
- Population growth and aging are the primary reasons for the spike, said researchers, who looked at 195 countries.
- But other preventable risk factors—like smoking, obesity, and high blood sugar—will also drive the increase.
- Dementia cases will rise in every country, with the largest growth in North Africa and the Middle East (367%) and eastern sub-Saharan Africa (357%).
- Global education makes a difference, curbing potential prevalence by about 6.2 million cases. Even “modest advances” in prevention programs and health interventions could “pay remarkable dividends,” said the study’s lead author Emma Nichols, according to the BBC.
But investing in prevention needs to start now, experts say: “The heartbreaking personal cost of dementia goes hand in hand with huge economic and societal impacts,” said Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK.