People over age 55 accounted for nearly half of total health spending in the U.S., despite representing over a quarter of the population. Those who have ever been diagnosed with diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer and emphysema, also had higher-than-average spending. Spending is concentrated even within populations with relatively high average health costs. Half of people reporting fair or poor health accounted for 94% of total health spending by all people in fair or poor health. Half of those over age 65 accounted for 91% of total health spending by all elderly people.
This is poor health tend to be those who are frail or have sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is excessive muscle loss. Although, two out of three people who are over the age of 80 have Sarcopenia, it does not have to happen and can be reversed in some cases with exercise and nutrition.
If we can have most people avoid muscle loss, osteoporosis (weakening of bones) and arthritis, then mobility and robustness can be more easily maintained. This could also save hundreds of billions of dollars per year in medical system costs.
Sarcopenia is caused by many factors, such as physical inactivity, bad nutrition, cellular changes related to the age; nevertheless, more research is needed to understand these influences. It has been demonstrated that progressive strength training is an excellent intervention for delaying the onset of muscle mass loss and sarcopenia. In addition, good nutrition can have a positive effect in sarcopenic patients and stimulate the increase of muscle mass, especially for older people.
It would worthwhile to create a larger system of gyms, pools and other health and sports facilities for the entire population. Making it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle would be more cost-effective than letting more people become frail.
The entire US fitness industry is a $30 billion per year business. It has been growing by at least 3 – 4% annually for the last ten years. Supplementing 90% of the entire industry and even doubling it size could pay back $1 to $4 in lowered medical system costs.
There are gene therapies and other medical technological interventions in the clinical trial pipeline.
Safer protocols involving creatine and other supplements can also make it easier to effectively increase muscle mass. A healthy young person has about double the muscle mass of someone with Sarcopenia.
Healthy Aging With Vastly Reduced Chronic Disease
The seven major chronic diseases cost the US health system about $1.3 trillion.
Fixing most of the obesity, arthritis and lack of exercise problem would be about half of the chronic disease cost.
Even spending $500 to 2000 per year for aggressive fitness and training interventions can come out ahead versus hospitalization and other medical treatment for frail elderly.
Increase Protein, Amino Acids and Other Supplements for the Elderly
Protein requirements for the elderly population may even be higher than a younger population. This is due to age-related changes in the metabolism of protein, including a decreased response to protein intake. This means that an older population needs to consume more protein to get the same anabolic effect.
Leucine, an essential branched chain amino acid (BCAA) has been shown to preserve lean body mass. Leucine seems to stimulate muscle protein synthesis in a similar way in both young and elderly populations.
SOURCES- Peterson Kaiser, Kaiser, CDC, Journal of Muscle Health – Advances in the Treatment
of Muscle Mass Loss and Sarcopenia
Written By Brian Wang