Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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.

Original publication




Journal article


Calcif tissue int

Publication Date





229 - 247


Epidemiology, Muscle mass, Muscle strength, Physical functioning, Risk factors, Sarcopenia, Aged, Female, Humans, Male, Prevalence, Sarcopenia