Defining sarcopenic obesity and the need for intervention programs.

One in four Canadian adults has been diagnosed with clinical obesity. Not surprising. Obesity has become a global epidemic. It’s quite the paradox: While some individuals starve themselves to achieve a skewed perception of perfection, others seek the short-term comfort of a sedentary lifestyle and an abundance of unhealthy food.

As we age, the occasional fast-food binge suddenly goes straight to our hips, and our once seemingly naturally toned bodies start to gain a little more excess weight. Without changing dietary habits from our younger years and making conscious efforts to stay active, we’re bound to notice the effects of the ticking clock.

Sarcopenia is a condition prevalent in older adults. Simply defined, it is age- related muscle loss. With less activity and fewer muscle-building exercises, older adults are at a higher risk for fractures, falls and breaks.

Sarcopeneic obesity combines the worst of both trends: Loss of muscle mass along with gradual weight gain. Rising obesity rates have led to a high-risk group with both disorders, often linked to sedentary lifestyles and seen in both young and older populations.

Dr. Carla Prado, Assistant Professor and Director of the Human Nutrition Research Unit at the University of Alberta, focuses her research on this unique body composition. She has proven that sarcopenia, when combined with obesity, can complicate the treatment of individuals in disease states even more.

“We were the first to show the prevalence and impact of sarcopenic obesity in cancer,” says Prado. “Survival was approximately 10 months shorter for sarcopenic obese patients compared to those with normal muscle mass. Sarcopenic obesity is the worst case scenario because it combines the negative outcomes of both obesity and sarcopenia, leading to physical dysfunction, morbidity and mortality.”

Prado argues that sarcopenic obesity should not be dismissed as simply a geriatric disease. The goal of her project is to create a targeted nutrition intervention program to improve the body composition and overall state of individuals suffering from the condition.

More Insight: Obesity can also lead to “body shame” so here’s some tips to get through that challenge as you lose weight.

Author: Sina Woerthle, M.Sc. is an occasional contributor to Optimyz Magazine, print and digital editions. She’s based in Ontario, Canada.

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