Dementia rates in the western world have dropped by 15 per cent every ten years since 1988, new research has revealed.

The Daily Mail shared the findings of the study by scientists at Harvard University, which noted that although the number of people being diagnosed with dementia has increased due to global population growth, individual risk has fallen.

Among the factors thought to be behind the reduction in risk of developing dementia are lower smoking rates and improvements in people’s heart health. However, the researchers also warned that rising rates of obesity could stop this progress continuing.

Professor Albert Hofman led the research, and said that while it’s encouraging that this improvement has been seen as a result of things like fewer people smoking, we shouldn’t get complacent.

“With other dementia risk factors such as obesity and diabetes on the rise, this apparent decline in dementia rates may not continue for long,” he stated.

The newspaper shared other research from the University of Pennsylvania, which explains why obesity is a risk factor for dementia. Researchers here found it increases the likelihood of other dementia risk factors, such as heart disease and diabetes, developing.

Meanwhile, a study by Trinity College Dublin found that the higher number of fat cells in the body can trigger inflammation in the brain, which in turn can lead to nerve damage.

Last month care minister Caroline Dinenage issued an appeal in the Express for more dementia sufferers to volunteer for clinical trials, after Alzheimer’s and dementia was named as the leading cause of death in the UK for the third year in a row in 2017.