Defining sarcopenia: The impact of different diagnostic criteria on the prevalence of sarcopenia in a large middle aged cohort

A. Y. Bijlsma, C. G.M. Meskers, C. H.Y. Ling, M. Narici, S. E. Kurrle, I. D. Cameron, R. G.J. Westendorp, A. B. Maier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sarcopenia, low muscle mass, is an increasing problem in our ageing society. The prevalence of sarcopenia varies extremely between elderly cohorts ranging from 7% to over 50%. Without consensus on the definition of sarcopenia, a variety of diagnostic criteria are being used. We assessed the degree of agreement between seven different diagnostic criteria for sarcopenia based on muscle mass and handgrip strength, described in literature. In this cross-sectional study, we included men (n = 325) and women (n = 329) with complete measurements of handgrip strength and body composition values as measured by bioimpedance analysis within the Leiden Longevity Study. Prevalence of sarcopenia was stratified by gender and age. In men (mean age 64.5 years), the prevalence of sarcopenia with the different diagnostic criteria ranged from 0% to 20.8% in the lowest age category (below 60 years), from 0% to 31.2% in the middle (60 to 69 years) and from 0% to 45.2% in the highest age category (above 70 years). In women (mean age 61.8 years), the prevalence of sarcopenia ranged from 0% to 15.6%, 0% to 21.8% and 0% to 25.8% in the lowest, middle and highest age category, respectively. Only one participant (0.2%) was identified having sarcopenia according to all diagnostic criteria that marked prevalence above 0%. We conclude that the prevalence of sarcopenia is highly dependent on the applied diagnostic criteria. It is necessary to reach a consensus on the definition of sarcopenia in order to make studies comparable and for implementation in clinical care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-881
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013

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