Increasing people's fruit and veg intake and eliminating depression and diabetes could prove crucial in cutting the number of future cases of dementia – a study published in the BMJ has revealed.
Determining what public health interventions could have the biggest impact on lowering the burden of dementia in the population was the aim of the British and French researchers.
Signs of dementia after two, four and seven years were tested on a group of 1,400 elderly people.
Participants were asked to do a reading test as a measure of intelligence and indicators such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, dietary habits, mobility, monthly income, education level, weight and height were all recorded.
Eliminating depression and diabetes and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption were estimated to lead to an overall 21% reduction in new cases of dementia.
If the main known genetic risk factor for the disease was also tackled, 7% more cases could be prevented.
Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society said: "Effective prevention of diabetes, depression and heart disease could potentially improve the lives of millions of people affected by this cruel condition and reduce the billions spent on dementia care each year."