European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People

The European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) developed a practical clinical definition and consensus diagnostic criteria for age-related sarcopenia. EWGSOP included representatives from four participant organisations, i.e. the European Geriatric Medicine Society, the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics—European Region and the International Association of Nutrition and Aging. These organisations endorsed the findings in the final document.

The group met and addressed the following questions, using the medical literature to build evidence-based answers: (i) What is sarcopenia? (ii) What parameters define sarcopenia? (iii) What variables reflect these parameters, and what measurement tools and cut-off points can be used? (iv) How does sarcopenia relate to cachexia, frailty and sarcopenic obesity?

For the diagnosis of sarcopenia, EWGSOP recommends using the presence of both low muscle mass + low muscle function (strength or performance). EWGSOP variously applies these characteristics to further define conceptual stages as ‘presarcopenia’, ‘sarcopenia’ and ‘severe sarcopenia’. EWGSOP reviewed a wide range of tools that can be used to measure the specific variables of muscle mass, muscle strength and physical performance. Our paper summarises currently available data defining sarcopenia cut-off points by age and gender; suggests an algorithm for sarcopenia case finding in older individuals based on measurements of gait speed, grip strength and muscle mass; and presents a list of suggested primary and secondary outcome domains for research.

Once an operational definition of sarcopenia is adopted and included in the mainstream of comprehensive geriatric assessment, the next steps are to define the natural course of sarcopenia and to develop and define effective treatment.