Guyonnet S, Secher M, Ghisolfi A, Ritz P, Vellas B

J Frailty Aging 2013;4:13-25

Publication date: March 1, 2015


The heterogeneous group of older adults may be differentiated into three subgroups in order to facilitate the development and implementation of personalized healthcare interventions: 1) “disabled individuals” (i.e., those needing assistance in the accomplishment of basic activities of daily living), 2) “frail individuals” (i.e., those presenting some limitations and impairments in the absence of functional disability), and 3) the “robust individuals” (i.e., those who are neither frail or disabled).

Despite the growing evidence linking frailty to poor outcomes, this syndrome has yet to be adequately considered in clinical practice. There is a lack of recognition of frail individuals frequently leading to inadequate or inappropriate offer of healthcare services. The assessment of frailty in older adults is recommended to preventively act before the activation of the irreversible cascade of disability.

Characteristic features of frailty (e.g., weakness, low energy, slow walking speed, low physical activity, and weight loss) clearly suggest the existence of a close link between nutrition and the status of extreme vulnerability (to intend both from a physical and cognitive viewpoint). Interestingly, recent clinical experiences in the field of frailty and nutrition have demonstrated that this syndrome is often related to relevant prevalence of malnutrition and risk of becoming malnourished.

In the present article, the authors provide a review of existing evidence in the field of nutrition and frailty. Potential nutritional interventions for preventing frailty and age-related disabling conditions are also discussed.

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