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Age Ageing. 2019 Jan 1;48(1):48-56. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afy106.

The prevalence of sarcopenia in community-dwelling older adults, an exploration of differences between studies and within definitions: a systematic review and meta-analyses.

Author information

Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Labarge Centre for Mobility in Aging, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Mathematics & Statistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Population Genomics Program, Chanchlani Research Centre, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Biostatistics Unit, Research Institute at St Joes, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, 50 Charlton Avenue E, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



sarcopenia in ageing is a progressive decrease in muscle mass, strength and/or physical function. This review aims to summarise the definitions of sarcopenia in community-dwelling older adults and explore similarities and differences in prevalence estimates by definition.


a systematic review was conducted to identify articles which estimated sarcopenia prevalence in older populations using search terms for sarcopenia and muscle mass. Overall prevalence for each sarcopenia definition was estimated stratified by sex and ethnicity. Secondary analyses explored differences between studies and within definitions, including participant age, muscle mass measurement techniques and thresholds for muscle mass and gait speed.


in 109 included articles, eight definitions of sarcopenia were identified. The lowest pooled prevalence estimates came from the European Working Group on Sarcopenia/Asian Working Group on Sarcopenia (12.9%, 95% confidence interval: 9.9-15.9%), International Working Group on Sarcopenia (9.9%, 3.2-16.6%) and Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (18.6%, 11.8-25.5%) definitions. The highest prevalence estimates were for the appendicular lean mass (ALM)/weight (40.4%, 19.5-61.2%), ALM/height (30.4%, 20.4-40.3%), ALM regressed on height and weight (30.4%, 20.4-40.3%) and ALM / body mass index (24.2%, 18.3-30.1%) definitions. Within definitions, the age of study participants and the muscle mass cut points used were substantive sources of between-study differences.


estimates of sarcopenia prevalence vary from 9.9 to 40.4%, depending on the definition used. Significant differences in prevalence exist within definitions across populations. This lack of agreement between definitions needs to be better understood before sarcopenia can be appropriately used in a clinical context.


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