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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is sarcopenic obesity?

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    Priya Iyer

    Dietitian

    With over 16+ years experience in the field of nutrition & dietetics, Priya specialises in rehabilitation (covering neurology, burns, aged care & disability) and has … View Profile

    Sarcopenia is the loss of skeletal muscle mass in the elderly (due to degenerative changes of ageing) which results in reduced muscle strength. Sarcopenic obesity is a combination of both increased adiposity & lack of muscle mass with age. Exercise & dietary intervention both are beneficial to address this condition.
    Sarcopenic obesity is linked to poor strength & disability in the elderly. Early intervention & management is beneficial in improving strength & QOL.

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    Daniela Manche

    Sports Dietitian

    Daniela Manche is a consultant sports dietitian for Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA), a professional organisation of dietitians specialising in the field of sports nutrition. For … View Profile

    Sarcopenic obesity (or “sarcobesity”) is the gradual loss of muscle tissue and increase in adipose (fat) tissue that arises essentially from a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. This ‘condition’ develops between the age of 30-60yrs, the effects of which are most pronounced in individuals over 60yrs where the loss of muscle tissue creates problems with physical function and living independence as we age. The time to act on this is as early as possible, but especially in our 30's-60's as this is the time that we can increase muscle tissue and decrease body fat. See an Accredited Sports Dietitian near you for guidance on appropriate dietary strategies and a trained Exercise Physiologist (see www.essa.org.au fro more information) for exercise prescription and guideance. 

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    Carlia Lozo

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer

    Welcome to Wellbeing is a private dietetic practice specialising in nutrition and eating behaviour counselling to individuals with weight and eating concerns. Our team provide … View Profile

    Sarcopenia is the age related loss of muscle mass, strength and function. Sarcopenia can significantly impact an older persons life by decreasing mobility, increasing the risk of falls and overall decreasing quality of life. Sarcopenia increases with a decline in physical activity and can be slowed by weight bearing exercises. Sarcopenic obesity is characterised by the visible loss of lean muscle mass in older persons with excess body weight. The excess body weight and decreased muscle mass exponentially compound to further decrease physical activity. This in turn accelerates sarcopenia and enormously decreases the quality of life of the individual.

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    Gabrielle Maston

    Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    A qualified Dietitian, Nutritionist, Exercise physiologist and Personal trainer. Gabrielle studied at the nutrition and sport and exercise science at the University of Sydney. During … View Profile

    Sarcopenic obesity is the mix of two different terms. Sarcopenia is the process of muscle wastage and of course obesity is excessive body fat levels. Sacropenic obesity is when you're gaining fat and losing muscle, which traditionally occurs because of malnourishment.

    This is seen in a lot in people that are recovering in hospital. Patients do not move they are bedridden and their muscles start to waste. Body fat starts to accumulate because they are still eating food.

    Out side of the hospital setting it is seen in the aging population, again, for the same reason. They might have a fall and be less mobile, less able to move around, so they start losing lean muscle. In addition to this it is also, it's just a natural process that happens with age. We lose muscle, if we don't use it.

    In other circumstances it could been seen in younger people due to medical conditions and inactivity.

    So, some types of medications change the metabolic processes in our body. Namely some high-strength depression medication.  Consult with your doctor to talk about medication side effects if you think this may be a concern. 

    Sarcopenic obesity is now seen in younger popuation groups due to working long hours in an office job, sitting around watching a lot of TV and not exercising.  

    How do you prevent this from happening?

    • Start exercising regualrly at least 3-4 x per week
    • Eat a balanced nutritious diet 
    • Check with your doctor about different medication options OR beware of side effects

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