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Assessment And Treatment Of The Anorexia Of Aging: A Systematic Review

Natalie Cox, Kinda Ibrahim, Avan Sayer, Sian Robinson, Helen Roberts

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(1) Background: Appetite loss in older people, the ‘Anorexia of Aging’ (AA), is common, associated with under-nutrition, sarcopenia, and frailty and yet receives little attention. This review had two aims: describe interventions for AA and their effectiveness, and identify the methods of appetite assessment. (2) Methods: Study inclusion: participants aged ≥65, intervention for AA, and appetite assessment, any design, and comparator. Exclusion: studies on specific health cohorts. Searches in four databases with hand searching of references and citing works. Two researchers independently assessed eligibility and quality. (3) Results: Authors screened 8729 titles, 46 full texts. Eighteen articles were included describing nine intervention types: education (n = 1), exercise (n = 1), flavor enhancement (n = 2), increased meal variety (n = 1), mealtime assistance (n = 1), fortified food (n = 1), oral nutritional supplement (ONS) (n = 8), amino acids (n = 1), and medication (n = 2). Three studies evaluated combinations: education + exercise, ONS + exercise, and ONS + medication. Five intervention types exhibited favorable effects on appetite but in single datasets or not replicated. Appetite was assessed predominantly by Likert (n = 9), or visual analogue scales (n = 7). (4) Conclusions: A variety of interventions and methods of appetite assessments were used. There was a lack of clarity about whether AA or undernutrition was the intervention target. AA is important for future research but needs standardized assessment so that effectiveness of a range of interventions can be fully explored.