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Approved Research

Developmental trajectories of physical activity/fitness, body composition, and healthy lifestyle to understand responses to loss of intrinsic capacity (IC) and premature mortality across the lifespan

Principal Investigator: Professor Robinson Ramírez-Vélez
Approved Research ID: 73008
Approval date: August 9th 2021

Lay summary

The project aims are: i). To characterize the intrinsic capacity (IC) profile (i.e. cognition and mental health, sensory function, metabolic rate, mobility and muscle strength) within the UK Biobank population. This is the first population-based study to report the prevalence of IC domains based on locomotion, vitality, cognition, psychological, and sensory. Quantifying the burden of IC in this way is of importance to providers of services for healthy ageing. ii). We will examine how different physical activity/fitness and lifestyle behaviours influence functional dependence, risk for death from any cause, and risk for development of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). iii). We will examine how functional capacity and physical environments influence lifestyle behaviours, as well as the way lifestyle behaviours influence IC while both controlling for and exploring the influence of variables that may compete on these relationships (i.e., socioeconomic status, age, sex, education, physical activity levels by accelerometer data, etc.). This project requires baseline data on physical and mental capacities of the individual test, and its interactions with the relevant environmental characteristics that determine the functional ability of that person, which is central for healthy ageing.

Scientific rationale: Functional ability, defined as retaining autonomy that enables the wellbeing and independence of people as they age, is the cornerstone of healthy ageing, a term established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its first world report on ageing and health. The interaction between individual domains of both mental and physical capacity-together known as intrinsic capacity (i.e., cognition and mental health, sensory function, metabolic rate, mobility and muscle strength)-and environmental characteristics are crucial in achieving the optimum trajectory to maintain a person's functional ability throughout the life course. Objective physical function tests such as gait speed, alone or in combination with other measures have been proposed to be a reliable indicator of overall health and functional status, predictive of adverse health events and disability, and strongly linked to all-cause mortality in older populations and to functional outcomes of clinical trials. For these reasons, physical function could be a simple easy to collect measure of overall physical health status.

Project duration: 36 months.

Public health impact: Using the unique resource of UK biobank, our study will promote the understanding of the etiology of loss of IC and premature mortality across the lifespan, and will provide scientific evidence for early intervention and better disease management.