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People with sarcopenic obesity (SO) have both low muscle mass, i.e., sarcopenia, and high body fat, i.e., obesity. These individuals are at a greater risk of metabolic diseases and physical disability when compared with people with sarcopenia or obesity alone.
Exercise and nutrition are known to have a beneficial effect on both obesity and sarcopenia management. A meta-analysis conducted by Hsu and colleagues explored the effects of exercise and nutrition on body composition, metabolic health, and physical performance in individuals with SO. Authors searched for studies looking at the effects of exercise and nutrition on body composition, metabolic health, and physical performance in SO individuals from electronic databases up to April 2019. The meta-analysis included 15 studies. Aerobic exercise was shown to decrease body weight and fat mass (FM). Resistance exercise (RE) appeared to diminish FM and improve grip strength. The combination of both forms of exercise reduced FM and enhanced walking speed. The meta-analysis revealed that nutritional intervention, particularly low-calorie high-protein (LCHP) diet, reduced FM.
Exercise, particularly RE, seems to be a promising intervention for improving body composition and physical performance in individuals with SO. Additionally, nutritional intervention with LCHP decreases FM.
Another recent review summarized the available evidence on pharmacological, nutrition and exercise strategies in the prevention and treatment of SO in middle-aged and older-aged women. A literature search was carried out from January 29 to March 14, 2019. Controlled intervention studies with focus on the prevention and/or treatment of sarcopenia associated with obesity were included. RT was again found to be effective in the prevention of all components of SO in women. It yielded significant improvements in muscle mass, strength, and functional capacity besides loss of fat mass, particularly in combination with hypocaloric diets containing at least 0.8 g/kg body weight protein. Correction of vitamin D deficit was associated with a positive effect on muscle mass.
Intense and prolonged RT and diets with high (1.2 g/kg body weight) protein content seem to have potential in the management of sarcopenic obesity.