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PLoS One. 2016 Feb 4;11(2):e0144405. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144405. eCollection 2016.

Behavioural Risk Factors in Mid-Life Associated with Successful Ageing, Disability, Dementia and Frailty in Later Life: A Rapid Systematic Review.

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Institute of Public Health, Forvie Site, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
University of Cambridge Medical Library, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, United Kingdom.



Smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet and low levels of physical activity significantly contribute to the burden of illness in developed countries. Whilst the links between specific and multiple risk behaviours and individual chronic conditions are well documented, the impact of these behaviours in mid-life across a range of later life outcomes has yet to be comprehensively assessed. This review aimed to provide an overview of behavioural risk factors in mid-life that are associated with successful ageing and the primary prevention or delay of disability, dementia, frailty and non-communicable chronic conditions.


A literature search was conducted to identify cohort studies published in English since 2000 up to Dec 2014. Multivariate analyses and a minimum follow-up of five years were required for inclusion. Two reviewers screened titles, abstracts and papers independently. Studies were assessed for quality. Evidence was synthesised by mid-life behavioural risk for a range of late life outcomes.


This search located 10,338 individual references, of which 164 are included in this review. Follow-up data ranged from five years to 36 years. Outcomes include dementia, frailty, disability and cardiovascular disease. There is consistent evidence of beneficial associations between mid-life physical activity, healthy ageing and disease outcomes. Across all populations studied there is consistent evidence that mid-life smoking has a detrimental effect on health. Evidence specific to alcohol consumption was mixed. Limited, but supportive, evidence was available relating specifically to mid-life diet, leisure and social activities or health inequalities.


There is consistent evidence of associations between mid-life behaviours and a range of late life outcomes. The promotion of physical activity, healthy diet and smoking cessation in all mid-life populations should be encouraged for successful ageing and the prevention of disability and chronic disease.

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