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Getting to grips with sarcopenia: recent advances and practical management for the gastroenterologist
  1. Thomas William Hollingworth1,
  2. Siddhartha M Oke2,
  3. Harnish Patel3,
  4. Trevor R Smith1
  1. 1Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  2. 2Department of Gastroenterology, Saint Mark's Hospital, Harrow, London, UK
  3. 3Geriatrics, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thomas William Hollingworth, Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Hampshire SO16 6YD, UK; Thomas.Hollingworth{at}


Sarcopenia is a progressive and generalised disorder of skeletal muscle strength, function and mass, that is most commonly associated with the normal ageing process. It is increasingly recognised that sarcopenia can also develop as a consequence of malabsorptive and inflammatory conditions, such as those seen by gastroenterologists and hepatologists. It affects 1%–30% of the general population, but is seen in approximately 40% of patients with gastrointestinal conditions including inflammatory bowel disease and cirrhosis. Within this group of patients, it is associated with increased complications and mortality. The pathogenesis of sarcopenia is multifactorial with several risk factors implicated in its development including undernutrition, physical inactivity and coexistent multimorbidity. The SARC-F questionnaire has been developed to screen for patients at risk of sarcopenia, however, this focuses on the functional consequences and will therefore not identify those patients who are early in the progression of sarcopenia. There are several different non-invasive techniques available to assess muscle quantity and quality including; grip strength, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, CT which can be used together to diagnose sarcopenia. Assessment and correction of malnutrition, particularly protein intake, in those at risk of sarcopenia is important in preventing the development and progression of sarcopenia. There are no specific drugs that are available for the treatment of sarcopenia, however, resistance exercise programmes combined with nutritional interventions show promise. It is important that this common condition is screened for and recognised, with any contributing factors addressed to reduce the risk of its progression.

  • nutrition
  • nutritional support
  • nutritional status
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  • Contributors TWH performed a literature search and wrote the article. SO contributed to the writing of this article. TRS and HP reviewed and edited the article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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