Why is this important?
In order to tackle the increasing problem of sarcopenia, obesity and sarcopenic obesity in elderly populations, our vision is to set standards for defining and screening sarcopenic obesity, to develop innovative strategies to prevent overweight, sarcopenia, obesity and sarcopenic obesity, and to evaluate and implement these innovative strategies in practice.
We focus on persons in retirement, an increasingly growing population at high risk of gaining fat mass and losing muscle mass. After retirement, individuals may spend more leisure time with feasting food habits while leading an inactive lifestyle. This leads to an acceleration in the ongoing process of age-related gain in fat mass and loss of muscle mass, causing a high risk of developing obesity, sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity. Between 65 and 70 years of age, weight gain can be dramatic without adaptation. At this moment there is a lack of effective sustainable interventions focusing on retirement as an important turning point to promote both nutrition and physical activity behavior.
With the SO-NUTS project, we use this critical transition period as an opportunity to shape habits that may sustain into old age. We plan to develop an eHealth program that can be proposed easily by health authorities and is affordable, with low costs for individuals and health care systems. We target all persons in Europe who will enter retirement or recently retired.
What is Sarcopenic Obesity?
Simply said, sarcopenic obesity is the gaining of excessive amounts of body fat (obesity) with a simultaneous loss of muscle mass, due to aging (sarcopenia). Separated from each other, both obesity and sarcopenia can already be detrimental to one’s health.
On the one hand, obesity can cause symptoms such as high blood pressure and a general dysregulation of insulin, thereby causing type 2 diabetes. However, the gaining of large amounts of weight is often also paired with a necessary increase of muscle mass, in order to carry the body. Sarcopenia, on the other hand, can cause severe mobility problems, an increased risk of falling, and limited independence amongst other things.
When combined, sarcopenic obesity creates a major threat to the health of an aging population. Moreover, the threat of sarcopenic obesity is continuously increasing as the average lifespan is prolonged and the demographic group of retirees expands even further.
The two factors that make a huge contribution to causing obesity, sarcopenia, and sarcopenic obesity are poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. Through tackling these factors, SO-NUTS creates innovative lifestyle interventions that help to prevent sarcopenic obesity.