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The recent secular trend in grip strength among older adults: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard DoddsORCiD, Dr Eduwin PakpahanORCiD, Dr Antoneta Granic, Dr Karen Davies, Professor Avan SayerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Purpose Weaker grip strength in older adults is associated with adverse health outcomes and is a key component of sarcopenia. The secular trend of grip strength is therefore relevant in the setting of ageing populations. A recent study suggested differences in this trend among countries in mainland Europe. We used data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) to investigate the recent secular trend of older English adults. Methods We used data on participants aged 50-89 having their first measurement of grip strength in waves 2 (2002/3), 4 (2008/9) or 6 (2012/13) of ELSA. Grip was measured using a Smedley dynamometer. We expressed grip values as Z-scores (number of standard deviations above the age and gender mean from normative data) for use in linear regression analyses examining the annual secular trend after adjustment for potential confounders. Results We included a total of 11,476 participants from the three waves of ELSA. Grip strength declined across the three waves, with mean (SD) Z-scores of 0.01 (0.94), -0.06 (0.97) and -0.20 (0.98) in waves 2, 4 and 6, respectively. The annual Z-score decline after adjustments was 0.03 SDs (95% CI: 0.02, 0.03) per year. Conclusion We saw evidence of a recent slight decline in the grip strength of older English adults. Over the nine-year period of this study, the decline seen is equivalent to 65-year-olds’ mean strength declining to that previously seen in individuals at age 69. Further monitoring of secular trends in grip strength and investigation of possible causes are warranted.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dodds RM, Pakpahan E, Granic A, Davies K, Sayer AA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Geriatric Medicine

Year: 2019

Volume: 10

Issue: 3

Pages: 395-401

Print publication date: 01/06/2019

Online publication date: 06/03/2019

Acceptance date: 16/02/2019

Date deposited: 18/02/2019

ISSN (print): 1878-7649

ISSN (electronic): 1878-7657

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s41999-019-00174-4


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