New global data reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2021 in Denver found that the prevalence of dementia is expected to increase by 2050, according to Science Daily.

It has also been anticipated that trends in smoking, high body mass index (obesity), and high blood sugar are predicted to increase prevalence by 6.8 million cases.

Researchers with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine reported the estimation at the AAIC 2021. They said the prevalence of dementia will nearly triple to more than 152 million cases by 2050.

Dr. Maria Carrillo, Chief Science Officer of Alzheimer’s Association, said, “Improvements in lifestyle in adults in developed countries and other places — including increasing access to education and greater attention to heart health issues — have reduced incidence in recent years, but total numbers with dementia are still going up because of the aging of the population.”

“In addition, obesity, diabetes, and sedentary lifestyles in younger people are rising quickly, and these are risk factors for dementia,” she added.

Researcher Emma Nichols and colleagues looked at data from 1999 to 2019 from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, which aimed to improve on prior forecasts by incorporating information on trends in dementia risk factors, according to Science Daily.

The team found that dementia would increase from an estimated 57.4 million cases in 2019 to an estimated 152.8 million cases in 2050. They also found that the highest prevalence is estimated in eastern sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Nichols said, “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.”

“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,” she added.

Dr. Carrillo explained, “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.

“In addition to therapeutics, it’s critical to uncover culturally-tailored interventions that reduce dementia risk through lifestyle factors like education, diet, and exercise,” she added. The article was published in Science Daily.