Among US adults, there are large racial disparities in numerous dementia risk factors, including obesity and related cardio-metabolic risk factors. Moreover, wide racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities are found in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia incidence, with minority status and lower socioeconomic status having adverse effects, often in combination. Related mediating pathways remain generally unexplored, particularly in the UK population, according to researchers.
In their new study, researchers from the National Institute on Aging, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Stanford University, and the University of Glasgow examined those disparities and their related pathways among UK Biobank study respondents using a series of Cox proportional hazards and generalized structural equations models.
The study examines pathways that might explain racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in Alzheimer’s disease or all-cause dementia, focusing on lifestyle, biological, and cognitive pathways.
The selected sample consisted of 323,483 adults, of whom 5,491 had incident all-cause dementia (2,314 were Alzheimer’s disease) through 15 years of follow-up. Racial minority status increased dementia risk by 24%, an association attenuated by socioeconomic status. The total race-dementia effect was mediated through both socioeconomic status and Life’s Essential 8 lifestyle sub-score, combining sleep, diet, smoking, and physical activity factors. Socioeconomic status was inversely related to dementia risk.
“Pending future interventions, lifestyle factors including diet, smoking, physical activity, and sleep are crucial for reducing racial and socioeconomic disparities in dementia,” the study’s authors concluded.