Age, marital status, body mass index (BMI), and sleep health represent significant risk factors for dementia and can be easily and inexpensively assessed at midlife, according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Risk assessment models that include these variables may be helpful in identifying potentially modifiable lifestyle and behavioral factors and ultimately aid in mitigating future dementia risk in older adults.

Investigators analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort (n = 2461) who were followed for >30 years. Decision tree and random forest classification models were used to find associations between patient demographic and lifestyle risk factors with dementia status. The investigators examined age (40-49 years, 50-59 years, and 60-65 years), BMI (<18.5, 18.5-25, and >25 mg/kg2), smoking status (smoker vs nonsmoker), alcohol consumption, dietary patterns, physical activity, and sleep health (less sleep [<7 h/d] vs normal/adequate sleep [≥7 h/d]).

Women aged 50 to 59 years who were widowed and consumed alcohol daily had a greater risk of dementia compared with married individuals. Men aged 50 to 65 years who were overweight and never widowed were found to be at decreased risk for dementia if they received more sleep vs similar participants with less sleep. A BMI >25 was associated with an increased risk of dementia in this cohort (odds ratio [OR] 1.11; 95% CI, 0.84-1.46), as was less sleep (OR 1.23; 95% CI, 0.88-1.71) and older age (OR 9.82; 95% CI, 6.25-15.42).

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A limitation of the analysis includes the predominantly white cohort, which may reduce generalizability of the findings across other demographic groups.

Findings from this study may help “future researchers in choosing the classification or predictive models for implementing mid-life lifestyle interventions to decrease the incidence of dementia.”


Li J, Ogrodnik M, Kolachalama VB, Lin H, Au R. Assessment of the mid-life demographic and lifestyle risk factors of dementia using data from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;63(3):1119-1127.