Who's at risk?

As sarcopenia is a disorder related to advancing age, the condition is generally attributed to four key risk factors: being of an age 40 years and older, a sedentary lifestyle, malnutrition, and a diet high in acid-producing foods. While each of these factors is distinct, they combine to produce an age-related loss of muscle coordination and mass.

40 years of age and older

  • Muscle loss as we age is regulated by our neuromuscular system (which controls our movement), hormones, protein synthesis, and lifestyle factors1. Research has revealed that sarcopenia tends to start at the age of 40 and progresses more rapidly after the age of 752

Sedentary lifestyleA sedentary lifestyle puts you at risk for sarcopenia

  • A sedentary lifestyle puts you at risk for a multitude of diseases.  Muscle inactivity reduces muscle mass, even in young healthy adults3.
  • Those who lead a sedentary life are more likely to have an acceleration of sarcopenia than those who lead an active life1.


  • Malnutrition can claim culpability for a multitude of health problems, and the degeneration of muscles (also known as muscle wasting) is just one of many results of nutritional deficiency.
  •  Older adults are particularly prone to reduction in food intake and as a result, malnutrition3.
  •  For a sarcopenia sufferer, malnutrition can cause protein deficiency, fueling the further loss of muscle.
  • An American survey indicates in adults aged 50 years and older, 32 to 41 % of women, and 22 to 38 % of men consume less than the recommended dietary allowance of protein5.
  • A 3-year study showed protein intake maintained  lean muscle mass in women and men aged 70 to 79 years6. Individuals with the highest daily protein intake during the study  lost 40 % less muscle mass than those with the lowest protein intake6.

Diet high in acid-producing foods and low in fruits and vegetables

  • Diets rich in acid producing foods (meat and cereal grains) and low in non-acid producing foods (fruits and vegetables) have been shown to have negative effects on muscle mass7.


1. Vella CA, Kravitz L, (2002) Sarcopenia: The mystery of muscle loss. IDEA Personal Trainer,13(4), 30-35
2. Waters D.L., R.N. Baumgartner & P.J. Garry. 2000. “Sarcopenia: Current Perspectives.” The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 4(3):133-139
3. Volpi, E, Nazemi R, Fujita S, (2004) Muscle tissue changes with aging. Curr Opin Nutr Metab Care July, 7(4):405-410
4. Kerstetter JE, O'Brien KO, Insogna KL (2003) Low protein intake: The impact on calcium and bone homeostasis in humans. J Nutr 133: 855S-861
5. Waters D.L., R.N. Baumgartner & P.J. Garry. 2000. “Sarcopenia: Current Perspectives.” The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 4(3):133-139
6. Houston DK, Nicklas BJ, Ding JZ, Harris TB, Tylavsky FA et al (2008) Dietary protein intake is associated with lean mass change in older, community-dwelling adults: the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study. Am J Clin Nutr 87: 150-155
7. Mithal A, Bonjour J-P, Boonen S, Burckhardt P, Degens H, El Hajj Fuleihan G,  Josse R,  Lips P, Morales Torres J, Rizzoli R, Yoshimura N, Wahl D.A., Cooper C, Dawson-Hughes B(2011) Impact of nutrition on muscle strength and performance in older adults. Osteoporosis International (in press)