Over 24.5 crore more older adults projected to face acute heat, Asia, Africa to be worst hit: Study

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New Delhi, May 14 (PTI) By 2050, world would have added more than 24.5 crore older adults who will be exposed to dangerous acute heat, with those living in Asia and Africa likely to experience the most severe effects, a new research has projected.


With populations around the world ageing at an "unprecedented rate," researchers said that the number of people aged over 60 years is expected to double to nearly 210 crore by 2050, with more than two-thirds living in lower- and middle-income countries.

These regions are especially vulnerable to extreme events driven by climate changes.

The team, which included researchers from the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, Italy, analysed trends regarding exposure of people from different age groups around the world to extremely high temperatures.


"By 2050, more than 23 per cent of the global population aged over 69 years will live in climates with acute heat exposure greater than the critical threshold of 37.5 degrees Celsius, compared with 14 per cent in 2020," the authors wrote in the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers found that an increase of 17.7-24.6 crore older adults may be exposed to dangerous acute heat. They also projected figures of the vulnerable population specifically for Asia.

"The largest absolute numbers are projected for Asia, where individuals aged 69+ will reach between 588-748 million (up to more than a threefold increase from the current 239 million)," the authors wrote.


Heat spells, made more intense, longer and more frequent because of climate change, directly threaten public health.

Older adults are especially at risk for severe consequences, given their heightened vulnerability to hyperthermia (abnormally high body temperature) and common health conditions worsened by heat exposure, the authors said.

The researchers said that regions with older populations and increasingly exposed to rising heat are likely to face "considerable demands for social and health services" and would require novel policy interventions.

They said that despite extensive research confirming the individual-level effects of extreme heat on older adults' health and mortality risk, population-level assessments of being exposed to heat have received less attention.

The findings may be useful for health-related assessments and climate change adaptation-planning, the authors said. PTI KRS VN VN