Objective: to examine the clinical evidence reporting the prevalence of sarcopenia and the effect of nutrition and exercise interventions from studies using the consensus definition of sarcopenia proposed by the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP).
Methods: PubMed and Dialog databases were searched (January 2000-October 2013) using pre-defined search terms. Prevalence studies and intervention studies investigating muscle mass plus strength or function outcome measures using the EWGSOP definition of sarcopenia, in well-defined populations of adults aged ≥50 years were selected.
Results: prevalence of sarcopenia was, with regional and age-related variations, 1-29% in community-dwelling populations, 14-33% in long-term care populations and 10% in the only acute hospital-care population examined. Moderate quality evidence suggests that exercise interventions improve muscle strength and physical performance. The results of nutrition interventions are equivocal due to the low number of studies and heterogeneous study design. Essential amino acid (EAA) supplements, including ∼2.5 g of leucine, and β-hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid (HMB) supplements, show some effects in improving muscle mass and function parameters. Protein supplements have not shown consistent benefits on muscle mass and function.
Conclusion: prevalence of sarcopenia is substantial in most geriatric settings. Well-designed, standardised studies evaluating exercise or nutrition interventions are needed before treatment guidelines can be developed. Physicians should screen for sarcopenia in both community and geriatric settings, with diagnosis based on muscle mass and function. Supervised resistance exercise is recommended for individuals with sarcopenia. EAA (with leucine) and HMB may improve muscle outcomes.
Keywords: age-related; exercise intervention; nutrition intervention; older people; prevalence; sarcopenia.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society.