Sarcopenia is a debilitating condition that involves loss of muscle mass and function, which
affects virtually everyone as they age, and can lead to frailty and ultimately disability. In growing recognition
of the importance of both muscle strength and muscle mass relative to body size in contributing to
functional decline, recent definitions have now incorporated grip strength and a correction for body
mass as part of the key criteria that define sarcopenia. With this new definition, a much larger population
of older adults are now at risk of sarcopenia. In the present article, we reviewed the literature for
studies which tested the effects of diet or exercise interventions on changes in lean mass and/or functional
outcomes in individuals with either sarcopenia and/or frailty and identified 19 clinical trials. There
were a few key findings. First, dietary interventions involving protein supplementation improved functional
and/or strength outcomes in a few trials; however, other dietary approaches were less effective.
Exercise interventions and combined diet and exercise interventions produced consistent improvements
in lower body muscle strength but had less consistent effects on walking speed and grip strength. Lifestyle
interventions not involving calorie restriction generally did not induce significant changes in body
composition. There were a limited number of trials in which participants with sarcopenia were specifically
targeted, and thus there is an important need for more research to determine the appropriate types
of intervention approaches for the high risk population of sarcopenic older adults.
Keywords: Obesity, aging, muscle, strength, activity, nutrition, protein, fat.
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