Nutrition Management in Older Adults with Diabetes: A Review on the Importance of Shifting Prevention Strategies from Metabolic Syndrome to Frailty

Nutrients. 2020 Nov 1;12(11):3367. doi: 10.3390/nu12113367.


The increasing prevalence of older adults with diabetes has become a major social burden. Diabetes, frailty, and cognitive dysfunction are closely related to the mechanisms of aging. Insulin resistance, arteriosclerosis, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction may be common mechanisms shared by frailty and cognitive impairment. Hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, obesity, vascular factors, physical inactivity, and malnutrition are important risk factors for cognitive impairment and frailty in older adults with diabetes. The impact of nutrients on health outcomes varies with age; thus, shifting diet therapy strategies from the treatment of obesity/metabolic syndrome to frailty prevention may be necessary in patients with diabetes who are over 75 years of age, have frailty or sarcopenia, and experience malnutrition. For the prevention of frailty, optimal energy intake, sufficient protein and vitamin intake, and healthy dietary patterns should be recommended. The treatment of diabetes after middle age should include the awareness of proper glycemic control aimed at extending healthy life expectancy with proper nutrition, exercise, and social connectivity. Nutritional therapy in combination with exercise, optimal glycemic and metabolic control, and social participation/support for frailty prevention can extend healthy life expectancy and maintain quality of life in older adults with diabetes mellitus.

Keywords: cognitive impairment; diabetes mellitus; elderly; frailty; nutrition management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Frailty / etiology
  • Frailty / prevention & control*
  • Glycemic Control / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Nutrition Therapy / methods*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Quality of Life
  • Sarcopenia / etiology
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control*