Epidemiology of sarcopenia: determinants throughout the lifecourse

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Calcified Tissue International


S. C. Shaw, E. M. Dennison and C. Cooper

Publication date


Sarcopenia is an age-related syndrome characterised by progressive and generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength; it is a major contributor to the risk of physical frailty, functional impairment in older people, poor health-related quality of life and premature death. Many different definitions have been used to describe sarcopenia and have resulted in varying estimates of prevalence of the condition. The most recent attempts of definitions have tried to integrate information on muscle mass, strength and physical function and provide a definition that is useful in both research and clinical settings. This review focuses on the epidemiology of the three distinct physiological components of sarcopenia, and highlights the similarities and differences between their patterns of variation with age, gender, geography and time and the individual risk factors that cluster selectively with muscle mass, strength and physical function. Methods used to measure muscle mass, strength and physical functioning and how differences in these approaches can contribute to the varying prevalence rates will also be described. The evidence for this review was gathered by undertaking a systematic search of the literature. The descriptive characteristics of muscle mass, strength and function described in this review point to the urgent need for a consensual definition of sarcopenia incorporating these parameters.

Volume and page numbers

101, 229-247






Older People, Medicine, Health, Life Course Analysis and Biology


Open Access; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.; © The Author(s) 2017