Sarcopenia among older adults

The population in Norway is aging, and with increasing age comes a greater loss of muscle function that can be severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a significant contributing factor to a range of health problems and diseases, and we must prepare for the economic and social consequences of this loss of muscle function as the number of older adults in the population increases in the years ahead. This project aims to provide new insights into the prevalence, consequences, and prevention of sarcopenia among older adults.

Project period: 19.08.2019-16.08.2024

Individuals approaching old age may experience a significant loss of muscle strength, muscle mass, and physical function, a condition that can today be diagnosed as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia has been shown to be linked to early death and increased risk of falls, fractures, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, reduced mobility, and reduced quality of life. There are ongoing international discussions on how sarcopenia should be diagnosed and whether the various diagnostic thresholds for the disease are precise enough. To meet the societal challenges of the aging population in the future, it is important that we develop knowledge on how sarcopenia should be defined, measured, prevented/treated, and followed up, in order to ensure independent healthy lives for our older adults.

This project uses data from the seventh data collection (2015-2016) in the Tromsø Study, where 7,800 participants aged 40-84 have had their muscle strength and function measured, and 3,600 participants in the same age range have had their muscle mass assessed. The project is positioned to provide knowledge to the ongoing international revisions of the sarcopenia diagnosis, by contributing with research data on improved diagnosis, assessment of health risks, and evaluation of possible preventive measures.

The project will specifically investigate these research questions:

  1. What is the prevalence of sarcopenia among adults and older adults, and is it influenced by the choice of diagnostic test (arm strength vs. leg strength)?
  2. What does the relationship between physical activity/sedentary behavior and sarcopenia look like, and is this relationship moderated by different combinations of these behaviors?
  3. Do measures of muscle strength in the upper- and lower body identify different individuals at risk of premature death, and what are the implications for sarcopenia diagnosis?



Jonas Johansson (Principal investigator), UiT
Sameline Grimsgaard, UiT
Bjørn Heine Strand, FHI
Rachel Cooper, Newcastle University
Avan A. Sayer, Newcastle University
David Scott, Deakin University
Laila Hopstock, UiT
Bente Morseth, UiT



  1. Johansson J, Strand BH, Morseth B, Hopstock LA, Grimsgaard S. Differences in sarcopenia prevalence between upper-body and lower-body based EWGSOP2 muscle strength criteria: the Tromso study 2015-2016. BMC Geriatrics 2020, 20(1):461.
  2. Johansson J, Morseth B, Scott D, Strand BH, Hopstock LA, Grimsgaard S. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity modifies the relationship between sedentary time and sarcopenia: the Tromso Study 2015-2016. Journal of Cachexia Sarcopenia and Muscle 2021, 12(4):955-963.
  3. Johansson J, Grimsgaard S, Strand B.H, Sayer Avan.A, Cooper R. Comparing associations of handgrip strength and chair stand performance with all-cause mortality—implications for defining probable sarcopenia: the Tromsø Study 2015–2020. BMC Medicine 21, 451 (2023).

Financial/grant information:

High North Population Studies, UiT