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Clin Interv Aging. 2016 Feb 5;11:133-40. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S96017. eCollection 2016.

Dietary protein intake in sarcopenic obese older women.

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Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Federico II University of Naples, Naples, Italy.
Human Nutrition Research Centre, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
IRCCS Salvatore Maugeri Foundation, Telese, Italy.



To determine the prevalence of sarcopenia in a population of obese older women and to assess the effect of a diet moderately rich in proteins on lean mass in sarcopenic obese older women.


A total of 1,030 females, >65 years old, body mass index >30 kg/m(2), were investigated about their nutritional status. Muscle mass (MM) was estimated according to the Janssen equation (MM =0.401× height(2)/resistance measured at 50 kHz +3.825× sex -0.071× age +5.102). Sarcopenia was defined according to the MM index, MM/height2 (kg/m(2)), as two standard deviations lower than the obesity-derived cutoff score (7.3 kg/m(2)). A food-frequency questionnaire was used to measure participants' usual food intake during the previous 3 months. Moreover, a group of sarcopenic obese older women (n=104) was divided in two subgroups: the first (normal protein intake [NPI], n=50) administered with a hypocaloric diet (0.8 g/kg desirable body weight/day of proteins), and the second treated with a hypocaloric diet containing 1.2 g/kg desirable body weight/day of proteins (high protein intake [HPI], n=54), for 3 months. Dietary ingestion was estimated according to a daily food diary, self-administered, and three reports of nonconsecutive 24-hour recall every month during the follow-up.


The 104 women were classified as sarcopenic. After dieting, significant reductions in body mass index were detected (NPI 30.7±1.3 vs 32.0±2.3 kg/m(2), HPI 30.26±0.90 vs 31.05±2.90 kg/m(2); P<0.01 vs baseline). The MM index presented significant variations in the NPI as well as in the HPI sarcopenic group (NPI 6.98±0.1 vs 7.10±0.2 kg/m(2), HPI 7.13±0.4 vs 6.96±0.1 kg/m(2); P<0.01 vs baseline).


A diet moderately rich in proteins was able to preserve MM in sarcopenic women. Therefore, adequate protein intake could contribute to the prevention of lean-mass loss associated with weight reduction in obese older people.


aging; lean body mass; obesity; protein intake; sarcopenia

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