New insights into the anorexia of ageing: from prevention to treatment

Purpose of review Undernutrition in older adults is associated with frailty, functional decline, and mortality. The ‘anorexia of ageing’ is the age-related appetite and weight loss underpinning such undernutrition. This review examines the latest evidence for its prevention and treatment.

Recent findings Existing nutritional therapies for the anorexia of ageing include supporting nutritional intake with fortified food or supplements, including protein, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins, and vitamin D. The Mediterranean diet provides high fat intake and nutrient density in a moderate volume of colourful and flavoursome food and is strengthening in evidence for healthy ageing. Studies of the gut microbiome, which potentially regulates normal appetite by acting on the brain–gut communication axis, are pertinent. Utilisation of the genetic profile of individuals to determine nutritional needs is an exciting advancement of the past decade and may become common practice.

Summary Prevention or early treatment of the anorexia of ageing in older adults is critical. Latest evidence suggests that once significant weight loss has occurred, aggressive nutritional support may not result in improved outcomes.

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: January 2019 - Volume 22 - Issue 1 - p 44–51