Research shows dementia rates falling by 15% per decade over last 30 years

The risk of developing dementia is falling, thanks to lifestyle improvements such as reductions in smoking, new research has found. Researchers have said that while the overall number of cases is rising due to the population living longer, an individual’s chances of having the disease is going down | Alzheimers Research UK

International experts have presented research indicating that dementia incidence rates may be falling by up to 15% decade on decade. Analysing data from seven population-based studies in the United States and Europe, Prof Hofman and a global team of researchers set out to determine changes in the incidence of dementia between 1988 and 2015.

Of 59,230 individuals included in the research, 5,133 developed dementia. The rate of new dementia cases declined by 15% per decade, a finding that was consistent across the different studies included in the analysis.

The findings will be discussed at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference 2019 in Harrogate.

Full story at Alzheimer’s Research UK

See also:

In This video, lead author Albert Hofman, discusses trends in dementia incidence over the last three decades at the Alzheimer’s Research UK  Conference 2019. Prof. Hofman goes on to explain the reasoning behind these trends.


National Diet and Nutrition Survey

Public Health England & Food Standards Agency | January 2019 |National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Years 1 to 9 of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009 – 2016/2017): Time trend and income analyses

Public Health England & Food Standards Agency have published the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS RP), the survey takes place annually using a representative sample (of around 1000 people: 500 adults and 500 children) take part in the NDNS RP each year. The NDNS RP comprises an interview, a 4-day estimated diet diary, physical measurements and a blood and urine sample.


Key findings: 

  • There was little change in intake of fruit and vegetables over the 9-year period.
  • All age/sex groups had a mean fruit and vegetable intake below the 5 A Day
    recommendation over the 9-year period.
  • There was a downward linear trend in intake of fruit juice over time among consumers in all age/sex groups although there was little change in the proportions drinking it.
  • There was little change in intake of oily fish over the 9-year period while intake of red and processed meat showed a downward trend over time.
  • Over the 9 years, the proportion of children consuming sugar-sweetened soft drinks dropped by 26, 35 and 17 percentage points for those aged 1.5 to 3 years, 4 to 10 years and 11 to 18 years respectively.
  • For those children who drank sugar-sweetened soft drinks, intake also fell significantly over time. (Source: Public Health England & Food Standards Agency)

Read the full report National Diet and Nutrition Survey

Want to stick to your News Year’s exercise regime? New research may help you to do so

University of Manchester | December 2018 | Want to stick to your New Year’s exercise regime? This research can help

Collbaorative research between experts at University of Manchester, Leeds Trinity University and the National University of Galway Ireland have analysed the results of 180 randomised trials in order to further research into the most effective techniques for changing adults’ physical activity using a concept known as self-efficacy.


This is basically the perception of our own ability and its influence on our ability to succeed or accomplish a specific goal. While earlier research has indicated that  higher levels of self-efficacy are associated with higher levels of physical activity, what is less certain is which techniques have the most impact on our self-efficacy.

A key finding from the study is that the greater the number of techniques used, the more effective they may be at maintaining our self-efficacy in the longer-term. They also found that simply providing people with information on the associated health benefits of exercise did not increase self-efficacy

Lead author Dr Mei Yee Tang at The University of Manchester said: “One of the biggest influences of our behaviour is our own beliefs. If we believe we are capable of doing something, then we are more likely to devote effort to it and feel we can do it even if it may be a difficult task.”

Dr Tang added: “We were unable to find clear patterns of techniques which should be used together, or which might not work as well together, in increasing self-efficacy.

“Previous similar reviews which have looked at specific adult populations have found self-regulatory techniques such as setting physical activity goals and monitoring physical activity behaviour to be effective at increasing self-efficacy in obese adults and adults without a clinical condition.

“Yet, these techniques were associated with lower self-efficacy in older adults. In older adults, techniques such as setting graded tasks – such as slowly increasing walking distance each time – ,were found to be more effective for this population.

“Therefore, it’s important to stress that there isn’t a single ‘magic bullet’ that can increase self-efficacy for physical activity across all adults.

“On January first we should think about factors such as age and any illness or conditions if we are to support ourselves and our loved ones in achieving their physical activity related-New Year’s resolution.”

Read the press release from the University of Manchester

Full reference: Tang, M.Y.,  Smith, D.M.,  Mc Sharry, J., Hann, M.,  French, D.P., | 2018| Behavior Change Techniques Associated With Changes in Postintervention and Maintained Changes in Self-Efficacy For Physical Activity: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis| Annals of Behavioral Medicine| kay090|



Self-efficacy is an important determinant of physical activity but it is unclear how best to increase self-efficacy for physical activity and to maintain these changes.


This systematic review aimed to identify which specific behavior change techniques (BCTs), BCT clusters, and number of BCTs were associated with changes in postintervention and maintained changes in self-efficacy for physical activity across all adult populations.


A systematic search yielded 180 randomized trials (204 comparisons) which reported changes in self-efficacy. BCTs were coded using the BCT Taxonomy v1. Hierarchical cluster analysis explored the clustering of BCTs. Meta-analyses and moderator analyses examined whether the presence and absence of individual BCTs in interventions were associated with effect-size changes for self-efficacy.


Small intervention effects were found for postintervention self-efficacy for physical activity. “Information about social, environmental, and emotional consequences” was associated with higher effect sizes, whereas “social support (practical)” was associated with lower effect sizes. Small and nonsignificant effects were found for maintained changes in self-efficacy for physical activity . Lack of meaningful clustering of BCTs was found. A significant positive relationship was found between number of BCTs and effect sizes for maintained changes in self-efficacy for physical activity.


There does not appear to be a single effective approach to change self-efficacy for physical activity in all adults: different approaches are required for different populations. Interventions with more BCTs seem more effective at maintaining changes in self-efficacy for physical activity.


Rotherham NHS staff  can request the article here

Health Survey for England 2017

NHS Digital | December 2018 | Health Survey for England 2017: Summary of key findings 

The majority of adults (64%) in England in 2017 were overweight or obese reports the UK  Health Survey for England 2017. It finds that males were more likely to be overweight (but not obese) compared to females, but females were more likely to be obese.

health survey
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There was an association between the weight of the parents and children. Offspring of obese mothers were 28 per cent more likely to be obese, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of children of obese fathers were obese.

Current cigarette smoking among adults has steadily declined between 1993 and 2017 (from 27% to 17%). Adults that have never regularly smoked cigarettes increased from 46% to 57% over the same period. 6% of all adults were current users of e-cigarettes.  15% of current cigarette smokers were using ecigarettes.  Although 38% of current smokers had never used an e-cigarette.

Fewer than a third (29 per cent) of adults ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables in 2017; with less men than women eating the recommended amount.

Average alcohol intake was 11.8 units a week- with men on average consuming more alcohol than women.  (Source: NHS Digital)

Read the full report from NHS Digital 

In the news:

BBC News Most adults living unhealthy lifestyles

Cycling and walking for individual and population health benefits

Public Health England | November 2018 | Cycling and walking for individual and population health benefits: A rapid evidence review for health and care system decision-makers

Public Health England (PHE)  has published Cycling and walking for individual and population health benefits, the publication is based on an evidence review to answer the question: What is the impact of walking and/or cycling on different health outcomes?


  • This review found that walking and cycling benefit health in a number of ways:
    people who walk or cycle have improved metabolic health and a reduced risk of
    premature mortality
  • walking and cycling reduce the risk factors for a number of diseases, including
    cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, some cancers, and Type II diabetes
  • walking and cycling also have positive effects on mental health and general wellbeing. The mental health and neurological benefits include reduced risk of
    dementia, improved sleep quality, and a greater sense of wellbeing
  • in environmental terms, health benefits accrue for the general population from a
    reduction in pollution due to car use and a decrease in road congestion
  •  the evidence is that the health benefits of walking and cycling outweigh any
    potential health risks and harms – for example from injury or pollution (Source: PHE)

Read the evidence review in full from PHE 

A healthy lifestyle cuts stroke risk, irrespective of genetic risk

University of Cambridge | November 2018 | A healthy lifestyle cuts stroke risk, irrespective of genetic risk

Research led by researchers at the University of Cambridge was designed to investigate whether a genetic risk score for stroke is associated with actual (“incident”) stroke in a large population of British adults.

The international research team developed a genetic risk score based on 90 gene variants known to be associated with stroke from 306,473 white men and women in the UK Biobank – a database of biological information from half a million British adults.

All participants in the observational study  were aged between 40 and 73 years with  no history of stroke or heart attack. Adherence to a healthy lifestyle was based on four factors: non-smoker, diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish, not overweight or obese (body mass index less than 30), and regular physical exercise.

The participants were followed up on average seven years later with hospital and death records used to identify stroke events. Across all categories of genetic risk and lifestyle, the study found the risk of stroke was higher in men than women.


Risk of stroke was 35% higher among those at high genetic risk compared with those at low genetic risk, irrespective of lifestyle (Source: University of Cambridge).

The full news story is available from the University of Cambridge 

Read the article in the BMJ 

Full reference: Rutten-Jacobs Loes, CALarsson , S.C.Malik, R.Rannikmäe, K., et al.| Genetic risk, incident stroke, and the benefits of adhering to a healthy lifestyle: cohort study of 306 473 UK Biobank participants| 


Objective To evaluate the associations of a polygenic risk score and healthy lifestyle with incident stroke.

Design Prospective population based cohort study.


Setting UK Biobank Study, UK.


Participants 306 473 men and women, aged 40-73 years, recruited between 2006 and 2010.

Main outcome measure Hazard ratios for a first stroke, estimated using Cox regression. A polygenic risk score of 90 single nucleotide polymorphisms previously associated with stroke was constructed at P less than 1×10−5 to test for an association with incident stroke. Adherence to a healthy lifestyle was determined on the basis of four factors: non-smoker, healthy diet, body mass index less than30 kg/m2, and regular physical exercise.

Results During a median follow-up of 7.1 years (2 138 443 person years), 2077 incident strokes (1541 ischaemic stroke, 287 intracerebral haemorrhage, and 249 subarachnoid haemorrhage) were ascertained. The risk of incident stroke was 35% higher among those at high genetic risk (top third of polygenic score) compared with those at low genetic risk (bottom third): hazard ratio 1.35, P=3.9×10−8. Unfavourable lifestyle (0 or 1 healthy lifestyle factors) was associated with a 66% increased risk of stroke compared with a favourable lifestyle (3 or 4 healthy lifestyle factors): 1.66, P=1.19×10−13. The association with lifestyle was independent of genetic risk stratums.

Conclusion In this cohort study, genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with incident stroke. These results emphasise the benefit of entire populations adhering to a healthy lifestyle, independent of genetic risk.

Five tests for the NHS long-term plan

NHS Providers | September 2018 | Five tests for the NHS long-term plan

NHS Providers’ new briefing sets out five tests for the NHS long-term plan, including conditions for an ambitious and sustainable NHS, while recognising the many challenges the service faces. 


The five tests are:

  1. The plan is centred around patients, service users, carers and families
  2. The plan is realistic and deliverable
  3. The plan is underpinned by a credible workforce strategy
  4. The plan lays the groundwork for a transformed, sustainable, high-performing service
  5. The plan supports local good governance, autonomy and accountability (Source: NHS Providers)


Read the full briefing here