Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Can you cheat dementia?

Dementia is not part of aging naturally, but caused by disease. A healthy body can help protect your brain.

Question Mark
What can you be doing to reduce your risk of dementia?

This quiz is an informal guide based on the findings of a BBC commissioned panel of independent experts, chaired by Alzheimer's Society. The panel reviewed key scientific papers and gave their opinion on what lifestyle factors can help reduce risk.

This quiz is intended for general information only. It should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. It is not a diagnostic tool.

Are you between the age of 35 and 65?


Do you have your blood pressure checked regularly?


Ensuring blood pressure levels are within recommended levels throughout mid-life (aged 35-65) can help reduce the risk of dementia.

A good lifestyle with a diet low in salt, a healthy weight and if necessary, treatment like hypertension drugs, can help control blood pressure.

Do you have your cholesterol checked regularly?


Ensuring cholesterol is kept at a healthy level throughout mid-life (aged 35-65) can help reduce the risk of dementia.

A diet low in saturated fats – those found in cheese, cakes and fried food, for instance, as well as treatment with statins – can help lower cholesterol.

Are you substantially overweight with a body mass index (BMI) over 30?

What is my BMI?


A BMI over 30 is classed as obese.

Obesity, rather than just being a little overweight, increases the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, a condition linked to dementia. Being obese also increases the likelihood of having high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are known to be risk factors.

Do you exercise for at least 30 minutes, five times a week? Anything that makes you out of breath counts, including a brisk walk.


Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, and so is indirectly thought to reduce the risk of dementia.

Do you smoke?


Smoking can lead to vascular disease, which is a risk factor for dementia.

Do you eat a Mediterranean diet, one with lots of whole grains, fish, and olive oil?


A few studies have shown a Mediterranean diet may be beneficial. This is a healthy, balanced diet, which relatively low in dairy products and processed food.

Do you have an active social life?


Some evidence suggests that an active social life throughout life can be beneficial. This is defined as both the ties you have with others and what you do in your leisure time.

One study suggests that engaging in leisure activities, such as odd jobs, gardening, knitting, may be protective.

Do you enjoy brain training?


The evidence is very limited to whether crosswords and number puzzles can help protect from dementia. This does not mean to say that they don't – just that any proof is currently lacking.

Above average risk

The results suggest your lifestyle may be increasing your risk of dementia by up to 20%.

However, this is only a rough estimation. There is good evidence to suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle might, in the long term, help reduce your risk of dementia – but there is no fail-safe way to avoid the disease for certain.

Slightly above average risk

The results suggest your lifestyle may be slightly increasing your risk of dementia.

However, this is only a rough estimation. There is good evidence to suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle might, in the long term, help reduce your risk of dementia by up to 20% – but there is no fail-safe way to avoid the disease for certain.

Average risk

The results suggest your lifestyle gives you an average risk of developing dementia.

However, this is only a rough estimation. There is good evidence to suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle might, in the long term, help reduce your risk of dementia by up to 20% – but there is no fail-safe way to avoid the disease for certain.

Slightly below average risk

The results suggest your lifestyle may be slightly decreasing your risk of dementia.

However, this is only a rough estimation. There is good evidence to suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle might, in the long term, help reduce your risk of dementia by up to 20% – but there is no fail-safe way to avoid the disease for certain.

Below average

The results suggest your lifestyle may be decreasing your risk of dementia by up to 20%.

However, this is only a rough estimation. There is good evidence to suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle might, in the long term, help reduce your risk of dementia – but there is no fail-safe way to avoid the disease for certain.

Find out more about how lifestyle factors affect your risk of dementia.



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