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J Nutr. 1997 May;127(5 Suppl):992S-993S.

Significance of sarcopenia in the elderly.

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  • 1Geriatrics Program, National Institute of Aging, Bethesda, MD 20893, USA.


At the present time, there is only limited understanding of the public health significance of sarcopenia. The well-recognized functional consequences of sarcopenia include gait and balance problems and increased risk for fall. Ultimately, these impairments can lead to the loss of physical functional independence. However, sarcopenia may also contribute to an increased risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis. Future studies of the pathophysiologic significance of sarcopenia need to consider the contribution(s) of muscle properties (e.g., muscle fiber composition, muscle blood flow, fatigue characteristics, innervation) to alterations in physical performance, metabolism and physiology, and skeletal health. More comprehensive studies on the sequelae of sarcopenia are critical to an accurate assessment of the public health burden that sarcopenia poses to the elderly population.

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