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New Federal Campaign Raises Awareness of Sarcopenia

(NewsUSA) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health (OWH) has launched a new nationwide campaign, “Stronger than Sarcopenia” [saar-ko-pee-ni-uh], to raise awareness of sarcopenia in women, a condition characterized by loss of muscle mass, strength, and function in adults 65 and older.  Sarcopenia can significantly decrease someone’s quality of life and can lead to other health problems, including an increased risk of falls and broken bones.

Research studies have found a nationwide decline in physical activity due to changes in lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sarcopenia is often made worse by a lack of physical activity.

“Since it was first defined as a condition in 2009, we have continued to learn more and more about the causes and effects of sarcopenia. As such, it is important that we keep women and health care professionals abreast of the latest information to help ensure the best care and outcome for patients,” said ADM Rachel L. Levine, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Starting as early as age 30, people lose muscle mass and strength. However, some lose it more quickly due to sarcopenia. Studies show that more than 45 percent of adults 65 and older are affected by sarcopenia, with millions of younger adults at risk for developing it later in life.  The “Stronger than Sarcopenia” campaign encourages women to speak to their health care professionals about sarcopenia and for health care professionals to screen for the condition and provide proper treatment if needed. 

“The public is likely familiar with bone health disorders like osteoporosis and osteopenia, but muscle health disorders like sarcopenia can be equally as impactful on women’s abilities to maintain function and mobility as they age,” said Dorothy Fink, M.D., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health. “Simple changes to daily routines, such as starting a manageable strength training plan and increasing the amount of protein in your diet, can help you maintain or regain lost muscle mass to more easily engage in everyday activities.”

To reduce the risk for sarcopenia, engaging in activities that strengthen your muscles, like body weight exercises and weightlifting, show the most promise for strengthening muscles. The benefits of exercise, particularly strength and resistance training, include better balance, fewer falls and broken bones, and better quality of life.

Eating a healthy diet is also important in the treatment and management of sarcopenia. Eating a high-protein diet—above the recommended daily allowance—helps build and maintain muscle strength. Consuming 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein for every 2 pounds of body weight daily contributes to the prevention of sarcopenia.

If you have noticed a change in your strength or ability to do everyday tasks, it is important to talk to your health care professional. They can help you find out if you have sarcopenia and discuss ways to stay active, eat healthy, and safely do your everyday activities.

Additional information about “Stronger than Sarcopenia” is available online at www.womenshealth.gov/sarcopenia.

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