Background and Objectives: Type 2 diabetes and lifestyle factors have been associated with dementia risk, but the impact of a healthy lifestyle on diabetes-related dementia remains largely unknown. We aimed to investigate whether the increased risk of dementia among individuals with diabetes can be offset by a broad combination of healthy lifestyle factors.
Methods: This prospective study utilized data from the UK Biobank cohort. An overall lifestyle score ranging from 0 to 7 was created, with 1 point for each of the seven healthy lifestyle factors: no current smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, regular physical activity, healthy diet, adequate sleep duration, less sedentary behavior, and frequent social contact. Incident dementia was ascertained using linkage with electronic health records. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the associations between diabetes, healthy lifestyle score, and dementia incidence.
Results: We included 167 946 participants aged 60 years or older without dementia at baseline (mean age 64.1 [SD 2.8] years, 51.7% female). During a median follow-up of 12.3 years, 4351 developed all-cause dementia. Participants with diabetes, but not those with prediabetes, showed a higher risk of dementia than those with normoglycemia. Compared with diabetes-free participants who had
a lifestyle score of 7, the hazard ratios (HRs) for dementia were 4.01 (95% CI 3.06–5.25) and 1.74 (95% CI 1.11–2.72) in those with diabetes who had a lifestyle score of 0-2 and 7, respectively. Among participants with diabetes, the HR for dementia comparing a lifestyle score of 7 versus 0-2 was 0.46 (95% CI 0.28–0.75). This finding corresponded to a reduction in the 10-year absolute risk of dementia from 5.22% (95% CI 3.94%–6.73%) to 1.72% (95% CI 0.92%–2.97%). The inverse association between healthy lifestyle score and dementia risk was independent of glycemic control and diabetes medication.
Conclusions: Adherence to a broad range of healthy lifestyle factors was associated with a significantly lower risk of dementia among participants with diabetes. Behavioral lifestyle modification through multifactorial approaches should be a priority for prevention and delayed onset of dementia in patients with diabetes.