May 13, 2013
Tech Gadgets, Obesity Fuel Increase In Dementia Rates
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Technology and other aspects of modern life are causing people to suffer from dementia earlier in life, and rising obesity rates will increase the number of individuals afflicted by the condition, according to new scientific data published over the weekend.
According to the UK newspaper The Telegraph, a study presented at the European Congress on Obesity on Sunday revealed that dementia risk nearly doubles as a result of midlife obesity, and that nearly half of all men and 31 percent of all women will be obese by 2050.
Researchers Dr. Laura Webber and Tim Marsh revealed at the congress that by 2050, nearly seven percent of everyone over the age of 65 is expected to suffer from dementia. Their findings, they said, add to “the existing body of evidence which shows the importance of policies and interventions to prevent obesity and its related diseases in the population, including dementia.”
“Research shows that obesity in midlife is a risk factor for dementia and these projections suggest that rising obesity in the UK could contribute to growing levels of dementia over the coming decades,” added Dr. Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK. “We know that age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, and while we can't change our age, research suggests that lifestyle choices during midlife could help to keep our brains healthy as we age.”
In related news, a study published in the Public Health Journal reports that there has been a drastic increase in dementia-related fatalities in individuals under the age of 74. The authors attribute the phenomenon to environmental and social changes in today´s world, according to reporter Hayley Dixon, also of The Telegraph.
Amongst Western nations, the US experienced the largest increase in all neurological deaths from 1979 through 2010, while the UK was fourth on the list, according to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics. The study authors report that the total number of these deaths increased significantly in 16 countries studied, and that neurological deaths increased faster amongst females in most of those regions.
“These statistics are about real people and families, and we need to recognize that there is an 'epidemic' that clearly is influenced by environmental and societal changes,” Bournemouth University Professor Colin Pritchard told Dixon.
“Considering the changes over the last 30 years — the explosion in electronic devices, rises in background non-ionizing radiation — PCs, microwaves, TVs, mobile phones; road and air transport up four-fold increasing background petro-chemical pollution; chemical additives to food, et cetera,” he added. “There is no one factor rather the likely interaction between all these environmental triggers, reflecting changes in other conditions.”