Although the causes of dementia are not yet known, we do know which lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and smoking can affect brain health and the chances of developing dementia.

Until now, there has been little insight into the perceptions of brain health around the world. In June 2019 an anonymous online survey ‘The Global Brain Health Survey’ was launched which aimed to investigate people’s views on brain health globally and to further understand what may or may not motivate them to support their brain health.

The survey was available on Join Dementia Research and 9, 869 of our volunteers took part, accounting for 91% of the UK participants.

About the survey

The survey was translated into 14 languages and over 27, 500 people took part globally. Most respondents were female and educated to a good standard.

Participants were asked:

  • how often they engaged in various activities specifically for their brain health;
  • what they would do to reduce the risk of developing a brain disease;
  • to select the three most important reasons that would motivate them to make changes to improve their brain health.

Key findings

  • Around half of those who responded were aware of the influence of getting enough sleep, having a healthy diet and exercising for their brain health;
  • More than three in four respondents were willing to do more exercise, relax more, eat more healthily and engage in more brain-stimulating activities such as sudoku, crosswords or learning a new language;
  • Respondents were less inclined to avoid alcohol consumption;
  • Most people make a connection between mental health and brain health;
  • To succeed with any permanent lifestyle changes 87% of participants require professional support and regular monitoring or follow up;
  • Close to all participants, 95% thought that public health authorities should provide reliable and easy to understand information about brain health and easily accessible free of charge brain health tests if they become available;
  • 76% of those who took part believe that public health authorities should introduce sports and relaxation activities within schools and workplaces and also subsidise physical activities and healthy food choices;
  • Approximately half of the respondents support increased taxes on fast foods.

Thank you for taking part

Isabelle Budin Ljosne, senior adviser and Lifebrain key author at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health says:

“It is apparent from the results that there is a good understanding of brain health, but people want clear evidence-based information about which personal lifestyle changes can improve brain health.

“The findings will be shared with civil society and non-government organisations, policymakers and other stakeholders. We are hopeful that these will be used to develop recommendations on the promotion of brain health in ways which strike a chord with people.

“We are extremely grateful to all those who took part, including the Join Dementia Research participants whose input was key to the UK findings.”

The study team will also be publishing a scientific article on people’s views on brain health testing later this year, based on the results of this survey.

Thank you again to the Join Dementia Research volunteers who took part. New studies are being added to the service all the time so log in to your account and check out what studies you may have matched to.