Context: Retirement is an opportune time for people to establish new healthy routines. Exercise and nutritional interventions are promising in the prevention and treatment of sarcopenic obesity.
Objective: This systematic review aimed to assess the effectiveness of nutritional and exercise interventions for the treatment of sarcopenic obesity in persons of retirement age.
Data Sources: PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and CENTRAL databases were searched in September 2021 for randomized controlled trials; a manual search was also conducted. The search yielded 261 studies, of which 11 were eligible for inclusion.
Data Extraction: Studies of community-dwelling individuals with sarcopenic obesity receiving any nutritional or exercise intervention ≥ 8 weeks with the mean age ± standard deviation between 50 and 70 years were included. Primary endpoint was body composition, and secondary endpoints were body mass index, muscle strength, and physical function. The literature review, study selection, data extraction, and risk-of-bias assessment were performed by two reviewers independently. Data were pooled for meta-analysis when possible.
Results: Meta-analysis was only possible for the exposure “resistance training” and the exposure “training (resistance or aerobic)” in combination with the exposure “added protein” as compared with “no intervention” or “training alone.” Resistance training led to a significant body fat reduction of −1.53% (95%CI, −2.91 to −0.15), an increase in muscle mass of 2.72% (95%CI, 1.23–4.22), an increase in muscle strength of 4.42 kg (95%CI, 2.44–6.04), and a slight improvement in gait speed of 0.17 m/s (95%CI, 0.01–0.34). Protein combined with an exercise intervention significantly reduces fat mass (−0.80 kg; 95%CI, −1.32 to −0.28). Some individual studies of dietary or food supplement interventions for which data could not be pooled showed positive effects on body composition.
Conclusion: Resistance training is an effective treatment for persons of retirement age with sarcopenic obesity. Increased protein intake combined with exercise may increase reductions in fat mass.