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Norfolk to play key role in European ageing study

Mon, 30 Jul 2012

The University of East Anglia has been selected as the only UK trials centre in a unique European project exploring the effects of diet on healthy ageing.

Researchers at UEA are looking for local volunteers aged 65-79 to participate in the 'NU-AGE' study. Funded by the European Commission, the project is the first of its kind, exploring the role of diet as a whole on the ageing process amongst different populations in Europe. The university's study will run in parallel with four other identical ones in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland.

The proportion of the European population aged 65 years and over is increasing, and is predicted to reach 30 per cent by the year 2050. However, with increasing age many people find their daily lifestyle activities compromised or limited by ill-health or disabilities, and as a result there is a real need to ensure that public health policies are focussed on 'healthy ageing'.

There are a wide range of factors that influence the ageing process, but lifestyle, and in particular diet, are the easiest to change. The study aims to explore how a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, dementia and other disorders that occur in later life.

Prof Susan Fairweather-Tait, from Norwich Medical School, is the lead researcher for the UEA study. She said: "In this unique European study we will be focussing on the role of diet in maintaining the health of older people. For a year we will follow volunteers from five different European countries, with different genetic backgrounds and lifestyles, and from the results we hope to identify what makes an individual more likely to have a long and healthy life."

"This is a great opportunity for local men and women to help us with this important challenge."

The researchers are looking for men and women aged 65-79 to take part in the study. They need to be living independently, without recent diagnosis of disease, able to participate in the study for a whole year, and ideally living in or around Norwich.

Simple changes to dietary habits will be encouraged amongst half of the participants, whilst the other half will be asked to keep to their usual diet and lifestyle. Food intake will be recorded using food diaries, and the effect of dietary patterns on health endpoints will be measured using a variety of tests.

During the year participants will need to attend the university for at least two visits, which will include blood sampling, bone density scans (DXA), cognitive function and physical ability assessments. They will also be visited at home by a member of the study team.

For more information about the study or to volunteer, contact the study team on 01603 591568 or nuage@uea.ac.uk.