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What is the role of diet, exercise and nutrition in healthy ageing? Lords to hear evidence

On Tuesday 5 November the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will question academic experts to inform its inquiry into how science and technology can enable healthier living in old age.

In the first session the Committee will consider the scientific understanding of the link between diet and nutrition and ageing, and whether dietary intake advice should differ for those over 60. The Committee will question:

  • Professor John Mathers, Professor of Human Nutrition, Newcastle University
  • Professor Kay-Tee Khaw, Professor of Clinical Gerontology, Cambridge University
  • Dr Marina Ezcurra, Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences, University of Kent

The session will begin at 10:25 in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords. Questions likely to be asked include:

  • How does dietary intake interact with the fundamental biological processes of ageing (e.g. cell senescence, nutrient sensing, proteostasis?)
  • At what age do people need to make changes in their diet in order for it to have an effect on health span?
  • To what extent do we understand the mechanism(s) by which caloric restriction affects lifespan or healthspan, and what is the state of evidence for the benefits of caloric restriction in humans?
  • Are the key public health messages with regard to diet and nutrition in line with the science, and are these messages appropriately presented?

The second session will begin at 11:25 and will focus on the scientific understanding of the links between physical activity and healthy ageing. It will also ask for examples of effective or ineffective policies that have aimed to improve activity levels in older people. The witnesses will be:

  • Professor Paul Greenhaff, Professor of Muscle Metabolism, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Alun Hughes, Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London
  • Dr Samuel Nyman, Interim Deputy Head, Department of Medical Science and Public Health, Bournemouth University

Questions likely to be asked include:

  • To what extent to we understand the link between activity levels and lifespan and health span?
  • What level of activity is needed for healthy ageing, and at what age should changes be made?
  • Could advice about activity be improved by a personalised approach, and how could this be delivered?
  • Can being inactive for long periods 'cancel out' some of the benefits of activity?

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