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Dig Dis. 2007;25(2):129-37.

The anorexia of aging.

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Department of Biomedical and Surgical Sciences, Geriatric Unit, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.


Malnutrition in the elderly is one of the greatest threats to health, well-being and autonomy, it is therefore crucial to understand and to contrast the causal factors of inadequate energy intake. This review focuses on the mechanisms of the so-called 'anorexia of aging'. In recent years, it has been shown that elderly subjects have abnormal peripheral signal patterns and alterations in central hypothalamic control relays. Negative feedback from impaired gastric motility, exaggerated long-term adiposity signals (leptin, insulin) and postprandial anorexigenic signals (CCK, PYY) seem to prevail over the central feeding drive. If nutritional strategies of intervention are to be improved, these data need to be taken into account.

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