Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty on Digital Media & Creative Industries


Preventing obesity, sarcopenia, and Sarcopenic Obesity in retirement – digital personalized interventions for healthy NUTrition and physical activity for Seniors (SO-NUTS)


This research project is about prevention of unhealthy weight gain and obesity during crucial phases throughout the lifespan. The aging population faces two conditions that threaten healthy aging: high fat mass (obesity) and low muscle mass and function (sarcopenia). Both conditions are independently associated with comorbidity, disability, low quality of life, and early death. The combination of both– referred to as sarcopenic obesity– synergistically increases the risk of adverse health outcomes. The two conditions often co-occur as they reinforce each other and share common aetiology, mainly poor nutrition and inactivity.

Although all aging people are at risk of gaining weight and losing muscle mass, during the transition from working life to retirement there is an even higher risk of becoming overweight and sarcopenic due to changes in hormonal status, poor nutritional intakes and lower physical activity levels. Even so, retirement offers a great window of opportunity to improve lifestyle, as older adults already need to restructure their daily activities. Furthermore, adopting a healthy lifestyle around the age of retirement offers sufficient time to prevent obesity, sarcopenia, sarcopenic obesity and provides long-term benefits, including healthy ageing and dependence in later life.

To stimulate weight loss/prevent weight gain while preserving muscle mass, it is critical that both physical activity and adequate nutrition be addressed. It is key to change behaviour in a sustainable manner, providing scientifically proven, personalized, and acceptable principles that can be integrated in daily life. Health technologies are promising tools for delivering personalized and appealing lifestyle interventions to a large group of people while keeping health care costs low. At this moment, there is a lack of effective sustainable interventions that focus on retirement as an important turning point to promote both nutrition and physical activity behaviour.

We aim to provide essential insights required to develop innovative strategies for preventing obesity, sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity. Using these insights, we will design a personalized digital program focused on nutrition and exercise that helps empowering people to lose weight while preserving muscle mass and function. We focus on a population that is, on the one hand, at high risk of developing sarcopenic obesity, while on the other hand showing a great window of opportunity of adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research FDMCI 6 March 2023