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Neuroepidemiology. 2012;39(3-4):163-70. doi: 10.1159/000338674. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

Can healthy lifestyle modify risk factors for dementia? Findings from a pilot community-based survey in Chennai (India) and Newcastle (UK).

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  • 1Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.



Currently there are no effective treatments available for dementia. Attention has turned to defining preventive strategies and identifying modifying effects of lifestyle, including physical activity, diet, alcohol intake and smoking, in reducing cognitive decline and overt memory problems in the elderly.


In this study, we addressed the modifying aspects of various components of lifestyle in two ageing samples and explored the possible effects that exercise, diet and spiritual and religious beliefs have upon physical and mental health. A total of 251 subjects (128 in Chennai, India, and 123 in Newcastle, UK) filled in a questionnaire regarding their lifestyle habits. Data were analysed with χ² analysis.


Our findings highlight that spiritual and religious beliefs promoted good physical and mental health and were negatively associated with risk factors for dementia, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and diabetes. Lifelong diet and physical activity also contributed to better overall well-being in both samples.


Our study suggests substantial lifestyle variations between two urban populations in Chennai, India, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. Further detailed work is required to identify the lifestyle components that have the greatest impact on modifying the known risk factors for dementia.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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