Patients with sarcopenic obesity (SO) are at a greater risk for earlier death, but screening for muscle function could offer an opportunity for intervention.


  • The proportion of older adults living with high body fat and/or low muscle function and mass has risen in recent years, but sarcopenia and SO are undiagnosed conditions.
  • Researchers evaluated 5888 individuals who participated in a population-based cohort study in the Netherlands: Participants were largely of European descent (98%); the mean age of participants was 69.5 years, and 56.8% were female.
  • Participants were included if they had available measurements of handgrip strength and had received a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan.
  • Sarcopenia was defined by researchers in JAMA Network Open as having low handgrip strength and was confirmed with a low appendicular skeletal muscle mass index; SO was defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 27, having low handgrip strength, a high fat percentage, and/or a low appendicular skeletal muscle index, which were defined as altered body composition (BC).


  • Participants with probable and confirmed sarcopenia had a higher risk for all-cause mortality than those without during the 10-year follow-up period after adjusting for age, sex, and BMI (hazard ratios [HRs], 1.29, 1.93, respectively).
  • Participants with SO and one BC component were at a higher risk for all-cause mortality (HR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.60-2.33).
  • Participants with SO and both components of BC had almost three times the risk for mortality as those without (HR, 2.84; 95% CI, 1.97-4.11).


“These results suggest that screening for SO might be implemented in primary care. In addition, early nonpharmacologic interventions, such as nutrition and exercise training, should be included to delay the onset of and to treat sarcopenia, especially SO,” the researchers wrote.


Yves Boirie, MD, PhD, of the Human Nutrition Unit at Université Clermont Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, France, is the corresponding author for this study. The study was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development, the French National Research Agency, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, among others.


The researchers also did not consider specific causes of death. Because the most participants had European ancestry, the results cannot be generalized.


Various authors report receiving grants from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche and Agencia Estatal de Investigación. Other authors report being members of advisory board panels for Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Nutricia Research.

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