Physical performance as a target to impact health burden and costs in older adults

The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging published ‘Muscle, health and costs: a glance at their relationship.’

The number of people aged 60 years or over is expected to more than double by 2050, from 962 million in 2017 to 2.1 billion in 2050 globally1 and this age group is growing faster than all the younger age groups. As a consequence, aging is about to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century; which partly explains the increased amount of research on the topic.2

Sarcopenia is thought to affect 30% of those 60 years and older

Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle mass and muscle function and is recognized as a geriatric syndrome. Approximately 30% of individuals aged 60 years and over are sarcopenic, rising to more than 50% in those older than 80 years of age.3 Costs related to sarcopenia are estimated at roughly $900 per person per year.4

The objective of ‘Muscle, health and costs: a glance at their relationship’ was to investigate the association between muscle parameters (muscle mass, muscle strength, physical performance) and activities of daily living, quality of life and healthcare costs. For the study, 227 adults aged 65 and older, either community-dwelling or staying in an assisted living or residential living facility, participated in the study.


Results of the study show that lower physical performance (gait speed and chair stand) is associated with more disability in daily living activities. In community-dwelling older adults, disability in activities of daily living and comorbidities were associated with a lower quality of life and higher healthcare costs. With regards to the health of the aging population and the impact this has on healthcare costs, improving physical performance may be a valuable target for future intervention and research.

World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision .
United Nations .
Baumgartner RN, Koehler KM, Gallagher D, et al. Epidemiology of sarcopenia among the elderly in New Mexico. American Journal of Epidemiology 1998; 147:755–763.
Marcell. Sarcopenia:  Causes, consequences, and preventions. The Journals of Gerontology 2003; 58: M911-M916.