Meating the needs of the elderly

Deakin helping develop more precise nutrition guidelines.

Gary Heyden
Gary Heyden

Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (CPAN) has received significant funding from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to study the effects of protein (lean red meat) and exercise on muscle and cognitive health in older adults.

Professor Robin Daly from CPAN will head the study, the first to investigate the combined effects of resistance training and increased dietary protein in the form of lean red meat on muscle mass and strength as well as cognitive functions like attention, memory, the ability to problem solve, reason and learn new information, in adults aged 65 years and over.

“Age-related muscle wasting and a decline in cognitive function have both been implicated in the development and progression of many chronic diseases, including musculoskeletal and neurological disorders such as osteoporosis and falls as well as dementia,” said Professor Daly.

“Over the next 40 years it is estimated that nearly 25% of the Australian population will be aged 65 years or over, and so there is a pressing need to identify safe and effective community-based strategies that can simultaneously optimise muscle and cognitive health and function in the elderly.”

The findings from this study will provide the basis for more precise evidence-based nutrition and exercise guidelines for the management and prevention of age-related changes in muscle and neural health as well as cognitive and memory function in older people.

Deakin Research Commercial’s Director, Gary Heyden, welcomed the new funding agreement.

“This new project is a convincing sign of the way that Deakin University’s researchers can work on projects that have a wide range of benefits to the community,” he said.

“Depending on the outcomes, there could be positive flow-on effects for the elderly.

The MLA also welcomed the opportunity to work with some of Deakin’s leading experts in health and nutrition.

“Supporting research by world recognised researchers like Professor Riddell and her team at Deakin help to increase our understanding of the role red meat can play in a healthy diet," said  Veronique Droulez, Senior Nutrition Manager.

As well as being a prominent researcher in CPAN, which is recognised globally as a leading research body for its expertise in nutrition and physical activity to improve health across the lifespan, Professor Daly holds the position of Chair in Exercise and Ageing in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University.

He is recognised internationally for his research into the role of exercise and nutrition for optimising musculoskeletal health and preventing chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia and type 2 diabetes; the use of state-of-the-art techniques such as MRI and CT for assessing body composition bone strength; and health issues related to vitamin D deficiency, low grade systemic inflammation and dietary protein in the elderly.

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