Socioeconomic Disadvantage is Associated with Probable Sarcopenia in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Sarcopenia is characterized by the accelerated loss of muscle strength, mass, and function in aging. The disease is a major public health issue with emerging evidence of a disproportionate burden in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage.

To estimate the prevalence of probable sarcopenia overall, and according to Socioeconomic Position (SEP). To explore the association between markers of SEP and probable sarcopenia.

Cross-sectional analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing data.

England, United Kingdom (UK).

This study comprised 6,052 older adult participants from Wave 6 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) aged 60 years and older.

Probable sarcopenia was identified by the EWGSOP2 guidelines as low hand grip strength (females 15 seconds). Socioeconomic position was defined by educational attainment and subjective social status (SSS). Weighted multivariable regression

analysis was employed to identify determinants of probable sarcopenia.

Over one-third of older adults met the criteria for probable sarcopenia (33.7%; weighted, 36.1%) in the study population of mean age 70.7 (SD 7.7) years. When examined by SEP, the prevalence of probable sarcopenia was over 2-fold higher in adults in the most vs the least disadvantaged SEP groups (47.0% vs 20.6%, respectively, p<0.001). Multivariable regression analysis identified disadvantaged SEP, as measured by educational attainment and SSS, as independent predictors of probable sarcopenia, along with older age, physical inactivity, underweight BMI, chronic conditions, osteoarthritis, and minority group ethnicity.

Disadvantaged SEP was associated with an increased likelihood of probable sarcopenia when controlled for other known risk factors. The findings suggest a need and opportunity for sarcopenia prevention and treatment strategies to address socioeconomic disadvantage in policies and practice.