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Osteoporosis and sarcopenia are common in older age and associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Consequently, they are both attended by a considerable socioeconomic burden. Osteoporosis was defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1994 as a bone mineral density of less than 2.5 standard deviations below the sex-specific young adult mean and this characterisation has been adopted globally. Subsequently, a further step forward was taken when bone mineral density was incorporated into fracture risk prediction algorithms, such as the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX®) also developed by the WHO. In contrast, for sarcopenia there have been several diagnostic criteria suggested, initially relating to low muscle mass alone and more recently low muscle mass and muscle function. However, none of these have been universally accepted. This has led to difficulties in accurately delineating the burden of disease, exploring geographic differences, and recruiting appropriate subjects to clinical trials. There is also uncertainty about how improvement in sarcopenia should be measured in pharmaceutical trials. Reasons for these difficulties include the number of facets of muscle health available, e.g. mass, strength, function, and performance, and the various clinical outcomes to which sarcopenia can be related such as falls, fracture, disability and premature mortality. It is imperative that a universal definition of sarcopenia is reached soon to facilitate greater progress in research into this debilitating condition. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Muscle Bone Interactions".

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





126 - 130


Bone, Definition, Epidemiology, Muscle, Osteoporosis, Sarcopenia, Aged, 80 and over, Bone Density, Female, Fractures, Bone, Humans, Male, Osteoporosis, Sarcopenia