FRIDAY, May 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- It's not clear whether diet and exercise can prevent muscle loss as people age, a new British review finds.
People lose 30 percent to 50 percent of their muscle mass between the ages of 40 and 80, according to the study authors. Muscle loss can lead to reduced strength, more difficulty doing everyday tasks, and increased health care needs and costs, the researchers noted.
"Poor diets and being physically inactive are common in older age. Understanding the benefits of maintaining sufficient levels of physical activity and diet quality to prevent sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) is therefore a priority," review leader Sian Robinson, from the University of Southampton, said in a university news release.
The researchers analyzed 17 studies that looked at whether diet and exercise programs in men and women older than 65 could prevent the loss of muscle mass.
"Although some studies have found enhanced effects of exercise training when combined with diet supplementation, our review shows that current evidence is incomplete and inconsistent. Further research to determine the benefits of supplementation and exercise training for older people is therefore needed," Robinson said.
The study was published recently in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging.
"Sarcopenia is now recognized as a major clinical problem for older people. Gaining insights into the effects of lifestyle on losses of muscle mass and strength will be essential for the development of future public health strategies to promote better health in later life," Avan Aihie Sayer, a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Southampton who oversaw the review, said in the news release.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation has more about sarcopenia.