An elusive consensus definition of sarcopenia impedes research and clinical treatment: A narrative review

Ageing Res Rev. 2023 Apr:86:101883. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2023.101883. Epub 2023 Feb 13.


The definition of sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass, has evolved since the term's inception and yet there is no consensus. Many of the identified definitions of sarcopenia centre their criteria around the loss of muscle mass, loss of function, and weakness. Common variables to various definitions of sarcopenia are appendicular lean soft tissue mass (often called muscle mass), grip strength, and gait speed. However, a lack of consensus remains among operational definitions and diagnostics for this newly recognized disease and may be attributed to the absence of appropriate tools that accurately measure the outcomes of interest, such as skeletal muscle instead of lean mass. In this narrative review, we describe the evolution of the consensus groups' definition of sarcopenia, address the need for more accurate measures of muscle mass and function, and effective, low-cost treatments (i.e., resistance training and diet) for this disease. Consensus on what constitutes sarcopenia is critical to propel research in the field and, importantly, provide what prognostic value a sarcopenia diagnosis provides and how such a patient would be treated.

Keywords: Aging; Muscle; Resistance training; Sarcopenia; Skeletal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Sarcopenia* / diagnosis
  • Sarcopenia* / pathology
  • Sarcopenia* / therapy