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The identification of probable sarcopenia in early old age based on the SARC-F tool and clinical suspicion: findings from the 1946 British Birth Cohort

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard DoddsORCiD, James Murray, Professor Sian RobinsonORCiD, Professor Avan SayerORCiD



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


Purpose The European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People 2 (EWGSOP2) consensus definition introduced the concept of probable sarcopenia as a basis on which to begin treatment. Our aims were to describe the prevalence of probable sarcopenia in older adults, and to investigate the utility of (i) the SARC-F tool and (ii) clinical risk factors for the identification of those likely to have probable sarcopenia. Methods We used data from the 1946 British birth cohort at age 69, with 1,686 participants included in the analyses. We used the EWGSOP2 cut-points for weak grip strength and slow chair rise time, with the presence of one or both indicating probable sarcopenia. We examined the sensitivity and specificity of the SARC-F tool for probable sarcopenia. We also examined associations between clinical risk factors and probable sarcopenia. Results The prevalence of probable sarcopenia was 19%. A SARC-F score of ≥ 4 had low sensitivity (15%) and high specificity (99%) for probable sarcopenia, whereas a score of ≥ 1 had higher sensitivity (65%) and reasonable specificity (72%). Three clinical risk factors were independently associated with probable sarcopenia: polypharmacy (OR 2.7 [95% CI: 1.7, 4.2]), lower body osteoarthritis (OR 1.8 [95% CI: 1.3, 2.6]) and physical inactivity (OR of 2.1 [95% CI: 1.5, 2.8]). Conclusion We have shown that EWGSOP2 probable sarcopenia is common in community-dwelling adults in early old age. Those with any positive responses to the questions in the SARC-F tool, a history of polypharmacy, lower body osteoarthritis or physical inactivity should be prioritised for assessment of muscle strength.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dodds RM, Murray JC, Robinson SM, Sayer AA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Geriatric Medicine

Year: 2020

Volume: 11

Pages: 433-441

Print publication date: 01/06/2020

Online publication date: 19/03/2020

Acceptance date: 10/03/2020

Date deposited: 14/03/2020

ISSN (print): 1878-7649

ISSN (electronic): 1878-7657

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s41999-020-00310-5


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