The term sarcopenia refers to the loss of muscle mass that occurs with ageing. On the basis of study results showing that muscle mass is only moderately related to functional outcomes, international working groups have proposed that loss of muscle strength or physical function should also be included in the definition. Irrespective of how sarcopenia is defined, both low muscle mass and poor muscle strength are clearly highly prevalent and important risk factors for disability and potentially mortality in individuals as they age. Many chronic diseases, in addition to ageing, could also accelerate decrease of muscle mass and strength, and this effect could be a main underlying mechanism by which chronic diseases cause physical disability. In this Review, we address both age-related and disease-related muscle loss, with a focus on diabetes and obesity but including other disease states, and potential common mechanisms and treatments. Development of treatments for age-related and disease-related muscle loss might improve active life expectancy in older people, and lead to substantial health-care savings and improved quality of life.
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