Association of anorexia with sarcopenia in a community-dwelling elderly population: results from the ilSIRENTE study

Eur J Nutr. 2013 Apr;52(3):1261-8. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0437-y. Epub 2012 Aug 25.


Objective: There is increasing evidence that anorexia of aging can cause physical and mental impairment. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between anorexia and sarcopenia in elderly persons aged 80 years or older.

Methods: Data are from the baseline evaluation of 354 subjects enrolled in the ilSIRENTE study. The ilSIRENTE study is a prospective cohort study performed in the mountain community living in the Sirente geographic area (L'Aquila, Abruzzo) in Central Italy. We defined anorexia as the presence of loss of appetite and/or lower food intake. According to the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) criteria, diagnosis of sarcopenia required the documentation of low muscle mass plus the documentation of either low muscle strength or low physical performance. The relationship between anorexia and sarcopenia was estimated by deriving odds ratios from the multiple logistic regression models considering sarcopenia as the dependent variable.

Results: Nearly 21 % of the study sample showed symptoms of anorexia. Using the EWGSOP-suggested algorithm, 103 subjects (29.1 %) with sarcopenia were identified. Thirty-four (46.6 %) participants were affected by sarcopenia among subjects with anorexia compared to 69 subjects [24.6 %] without anorexia (p < 0.001). After adjusting for potential confounders including age, gender, functional and cognitive impairment, physical activity, urinary incontinence, comorbidity, congestive heart failure, COPD, depression, anti-cholinergic drugs, and TNF-α plasmatic levels, participants with anorexia had a higher risk of sarcopenia compared with non-anorexic subjects (HR 1.88, 95 % CI 1.01-3.51).

Conclusions: Anorexia is common among community-dwelling older subjects in Italy. Our results suggest that among old-old subjects, anorexia is independently associated with sarcopenia.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Anorexia / epidemiology
  • Anorexia / physiopathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis
  • Sarcopenia / epidemiology
  • Sarcopenia / etiology*
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology