The world is facing an unprecedented increase in population ageing. In the Netherlands the rate of graying will even double in the next. By the year 2040 the number of elderly people over the age of 65 will have increased from 3.0 million at present, to 4.8 million (25% of the population). With such ageing populations the pressure on healthcare systems continues to increase. To bend this trend into a more favorable direction there is an urgent need to realize the potential opportunities of health optimization into old age.
Even though most people reach old age in reasonable good health, the consequences of the ageing process remain impending. Manifestations include chronic diseases around middle age and ageing related pathologies such as osteoporosis, dementia, anorexia and sarcopenia. Losses in bone mass and structure, cognitive decline, compromised appetite, and loss of muscle mass and muscle strength eventually result in a progressive loss of function and care dependency later in life.
As these disabling, interlinked processes are decidedly malleable (Kirkwood, Nature 2008) there is an urgent need for research into the prevention of ageing related pathologies and their functional consequences. Currently the wider range of disciplines acknowledge that preventive strategies should incorporate modifiable lifestyle factors, including nutrition. This topic will be addressed by Lisette de Groot.