In Ireland, only 30% of women and 45% of men over 65 remain disability-free for life*. Dramatic changes in cells start in our 30s, while in our 40s, health and functionality are impacted by increasing weight gain, decreasing bone density and loss or weakening of muscle. People with low lean tissue or muscle mass are classified as sarcopenic. Conservative estimates predict that the incidence of sarcopenia will increase by 50% over the next 30 years, making it a major public health issue among Ireland’s increasing older population.
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Research at the University of Limerick focuses on the preservation of muscle mass during ageing and provides evidence that sarcopenia can be offset by modifications to dietary habits. The research team have demonstrated that optimising the quality and timing of total daily protein intake decreases age-related loss of muscle mass. In addition, the team have collaborated with industry to commercialise nutrient supports that reduce age-related loss of muscle mass. This research has the potential to not only improve quality of life for seniors but also has significant economic implications. The direct health care cost attributable to sarcopaenia in the United States in 2000 was at $18.5 billion and the condition is estimated to affect over 200 million people globally by 2050 (Fielding et al, 2011).
*(O'Regan et al 2014)