Eat less and move more: can diet and physical activity contribute to reducing dementia onset and prevalence?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

With over a quarter million Australians suffering from dementia, and this figure projected to reach nearly one million by 2050, strategies to reduce dementia are explored in the latest health policy issues brief The Road to Reducing Dementia Onset and Prevalence from the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association’s (AHHA) Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research.

Authored by Australian National University PhD candidate and Deeble Summer Scholar Kimberly Ashby-Mitchell, the brief examines the evidence surrounding dementia onset and the role diet and physical activity interventions might have in promoting brain health.

“With dementia the second leading cause of death in Australia and a significant cost, both socially and economically, a comprehensive dementia prevention strategy is needed,” says Alison Verhoeven, AHHA Chief Executive. “Dietary and activity based interventions have been shown to offer some protection against cognitive decline, and also protect against the risk factors for many chronic diseases.”

The brief notes that no single government policy or intervention can be expected to directly affect the onset and prevalence of dementia or change lifestyle habits. However, Ashby-Mitchell’s brief identifies six key actions for policymakers which, taken together, could bring about positive changes.

“The six actions identified target various levels where an intervention can occur including policy development, investment in research, multi-sectoral collaboration and education,” Kimberley Ashby-Mitchell said. “All actions highlighted in the brief have as their foundation the Health in all Policies Initiative and social determinants of health approach.”

The Road to Reducing Dementia Onset and Prevalence is available here.

For more information on the AHHA, visit

The Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research is an initiative of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, community and primary healthcare services. The AHHA acknowledges HESTA for its support and sponsorship of the scholarship program through which this brief was completed.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501