Health inequalities in the UK are damaging brain health, reducing life expectancy, and incurring significant costs – to individuals and society. These disparities are avoidable, unjust, and on the rise.
Vulnerable individuals face increased dementia risk due to lifelong exposure to risk factors, compounded by poverty and ethnicity. Those most affected lack the means to adopt healthier lifestyles.
In response to this evidence, we’ve laid out a series of recommendations for current and future governments to adopt, we believe these measures will go far in protecting the brain health of the whole nation.
We can all take steps to protect our brain health and lower our dementia risk. Up to 40% of global dementia cases could potentially be prevented or delayed by addressing at least 12 modifiable risk factors throughout our lives. While some of these risk factors fall on individual responsibility, others, like the air we breathe and the price of a healthy lifestyle, do not.
This means that dementia risk factors are not equally distributed across society. As a result, our most deprived communities and regions are unfairly burdened with poor brain health, increased dementia risk and reduced life expectancy.
With dementia still one of the leading causes of death in the UK, there has never been a more pressing time to prioritise brain health and address inequity in dementia risk.
Towards Brain Health Equity: Tackling Inequalities in Dementia Risk
To prevent ill health, tackle health inequalities, and improve brain health, we’re calling for a cross-government strategy to:
- Clean up our air by committing to reach fine particulate matter levels of 10 µg/m3 by 2030, and 5 µg/m3 (the current WHO recommended maximum) as soon as possible.
- Make smoking obsolete by achieving a 5% or lower smoking rate by 2030, funded by implementing a ‘polluter pays’ levy on tobacco manufacturers.
- Promote healthy eating through implementing the recommendations from the 2021 National Food Strategy, including an ambitious programme to make processed food healthier.
- Tackle high blood pressure by implementing regulator-approved antihypertensives, lowering NHS Health Check eligibility age, and promoting Health Check participation, to increase the number of people successfully managing their blood pressure.
- Identify and treat hearing loss by integrating hearing checks in to the NHS Health Check, so that people who need hearing aids receive them.