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Maturitas. 2013 Apr;74(4):293-302. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2013.01.016. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

The anorexia of ageing: physiopathology, prevalence, associated comorbidity and mortality. A systematic review.

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Department of Geriatrics, Hospital San Juan de Dios, Pamplona, Spain.


The physiological processes of ageing and factors prevalent in the elderly such as comorbidities and polypharmacy often cause loss of appetite in the elderly, which we call anorexia of ageing. Social factors, together with changes in the sensory organs, can be important causes of a reduction in both appetite and ingestion. This review assesses the regulation of appetite in the elderly and the development of anorexia of ageing. It also examines the prevalence of this type of anorexia, its associated comorbidities and mortality rates. We have reviewed 27 studies, with a total of 6208 patients. These reported changes in the secretion and response of both central and peripheral hormones that regulate appetite. Anorexia, very prevalent among hospitalized and institutionalized elderly people, is associated with comorbidity and represents a predictive factor for mortality. No treatment for it has been proved to be effective. The mechanism regulating ingestion in elderly people is complex and difficult to resolve. Comorbidity as a cause or a consequence of anorexia of ageing has become a research field of great interest in geriatrics. A correct nutritional evaluation is a fundamental part of an integrated geriatric assessment.

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