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The prevalence of obesity in combination with sarcopenia is increasing in adults aged 65 years and older. Sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass and strength or physical function, naturally occurs in ageing. A major subset of adults over the age of 65 is now classified as having sarcopenic obesity, a high-risk geriatric syndrome predominantly observed in an ageing population that is at risk of synergistic complications from both sarcopenia and obesity.

As elevated BMI, functional impairment, increased mortality, and reduction in quality of life are observationally associated, addressing sarcopenic obesity is important for preventing long term disability in the older adults at high risk.

The growing challenges associated with sarcopenic obesity will probably worsen with the changing demographic distribution of our ageing population. Effective evidence-based therapies can be helpful for improving physical function in older adults. Clarifying the mechanisms that contribute to sarcopenic obesity might elucidate novel therapies to improve function, quality of life and prevent institutionalization.

Key Papers

  1. Galicia Ernst I, Torbahn G, Schwingshackl L, Knüttel H, Kob R, Kemmler W, Sieber CC, Batsis JA, Villareal DT, Stroebele-Benschop N, Visser M, Volkert D, Kiesswetter E, Schoene D. Outcomes addressed in randomized controlled lifestyle intervention trials in community-dwelling older people with (sarcopenic) obesity-An evidence map. Obes Rev. 2022 Oct;23(10):e13497. doi: 10.1111/obr.13497. Epub 2022 Jul 26. PMID: 35891613.

  2. Donini LM, Busetto L, Bischoff SC, Cederholm T, Ballesteros-Pomar MD, Batsis JA, Bauer JM, Boirie Y, Cruz-Jentoft AJ, Dicker D, Frara S, Frühbeck G, Genton L, Gepner Y, Giustina A, Gonzalez MC, Han HS, Heymsfield SB, Higashiguchi T, Laviano A, Lenzi A, Nyulasi I, Parrinello E, Poggiogalle E, Prado CM, Salvador J, Rolland Y, Santini F, Serlie MJ, Shi H, Sieber CC, Siervo M, Vettor R, Villareal DT, Volkert D, Yu J, Zamboni M, Barazzoni R. Definition and diagnostic criteria for sarcopenic obesity: ESPEN and EASO consensus statement. Clin Nutr. 2022 Apr;41(4):990-1000. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2021.11.014. Epub 2022 Feb 22. PMID: 35227529.

  3. Batsis JA, Haudenschild C, Roth RM, Gooding TL, Roderka MN, Masterson T, Brand J, Lohman MC, Mackenzie TA. Incident Impaired Cognitive Function in Sarcopenic Obesity: Data From the National Health and Aging Trends Survey. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2021 Apr;22(4):865-872.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.09.008. Epub 2020 Oct 21. PMID: 34248422; PMCID: PMC8269419.

  4. Batsis JA, Villareal DT. Sarcopenic obesity in older adults: aetiology, epidemiology and treatment strategies. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2018 Sep;14(9):513-537. doi: 10.1038/s41574-018-0062-9. PMID: 30065268; PMCID: PMC6241236.

  5. Batsis JA, Mackenzie TA, Barre LK, Lopez-Jimenez F, Bartels SJ. Sarcopenia, sarcopenic obesity and mortality in older adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;68(9):1001-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.117. Epub 2014 Jun 25. PMID: 24961545.

  6. Batsis JA, Barre LK, Mackenzie TA, Pratt SI, Lopez-Jimenez F, Bartels SJ. Variation in the prevalence of sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity in older adults associated with different research definitions: dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2013 Jun;61(6):974-80. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12260. Epub 2013 May 6. PMID: 23647372.