Does sarcoponic obesity link to metabolic syndrome? An issue that needs clarification

June 09, 2020

In the last two decades a new phenotype termed as Sarcopenic Obesity "SO" has emerged. There is still a debate regarding the negative impact of SO on health outcomes, especially in terms of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases; with the speculation that the two components of SO, namely the increase of fat deposition and the reduction in muscle mass and strength, seem to act synergistically to increase the adverse consequences on health, however this hypothesis has not been confirmed.

In this view, a group of Lebanese investigators from Beirut Arab University (Lebanon) and their colleagues from the University of Oxford (UK) and Gunma Paz University (Japan), conducted in adherence to the international PRISMA guidelines a systematic review and meta-analysis with the main scope to provide benchmark data on the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (Mets) among individuals with SO, as well as to detect the potential association between the presence of SO and the higher risk of Mets.

Of the 606 articles retrieved, 12 studies including a total of 11,308 adults with obesity of both genders met the inclusion criteria, revealing two main findings. Firstly, a similar overall prevalence of Mets in individuals with SO when compared to those without SO was identified. Second, the presence of SO appears not to increase the risk of Mets with respect to those without SO.

The principal investigator Professor Marwan El Ghoch - Chairperson of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the Beirut Arab University comments..."this finding has clinical implications, as health providers, especially clinicians, should be aware of the high prevalence of Mets in individuals with obesity (55-60%), however, the coexistence of sarcopenia appears not to increase the risk of Mets in this population (i.e., SO).

However, El Ghoch underlines that..."despite the fact that we were not able to find a higher prevalence of Mets among individuals with SO compared to those with only obesity (non-SO), nor an association between the latter and a higher risk of Mets; these findings should be interpreted with caution before jumping to conclusions, due to the limitations of the included studies in our systematic review, foremost the cross-sectional design of most of the included studies, our finding needs to be replicated through longitudinal studies to clarify the real effect of SO on the onset and progression of Mets before drawing any firm conclusion.
Reference: Association Between Sarcopenic Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, published in Current Cardiology Reviews, Volume 16, Issue 2.

Keywords: Obesity, overweight, sarcopenia, sarcopenic obesity, metabolic syndrome, reduced lean body mass.

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