European Geriatric Medicine

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 419–434 | Cite as

Sarcopenia and osteoporosis in older people: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Barbara Rubek NielsenEmail author
  • Jawdat Abdulla
  • Hanne Elkjær Andersen
  • Peter Schwarz
  • Charlotte Suetta



Age-related loss of muscle and bone (sarcopenia and osteoporosis), increases the risk of falls and fractures and consequently leads to a substantial economic burden for the society. The combined condition, osteosarcopenia, may identify patients at a higher risk of those outcomes and could be relevant for assessment and treatment in clinical practice.


To evaluate the current knowledge of the prevalence of osteosarcopenia and the fracture risk in older people.


A systematic literature review was conducted until 10th March 2018. A total of 1105 papers were detected, whereof 1049 and 29 were excluded by title/abstracts and full-text assessment, respectively. Twenty-seven original papers were included in the systematic review, whereof 17 were suitable for meta-analysis.


The prevalence of osteosarcopenia varied (5–37%) depending on the classification of sarcopenia and whether participants were classified initially according to sarcopenia or osteoporosis. In patients with low-energy osteoporotic fractures, sarcopenia was present in 7.8–58% and 1.3–96.3% of the cases, women and men, respectively. The meta-analysis of prevalence of sarcopenia in patients with low-energy fracture (n = 9) was 46% (95% CI 44, 48; p < 0.001). The relative risk of fracture (sarcopenic versus non-sarcopenic) in meta-analysis of four studies was 1.37 (95% CI 1.18, 1.59; p < 0.001). Mean bone mineral density (n = 5) and T-score (n = 3) of femoral neck was significantly lower in sarcopenic participants [− 0.07 g/cm2 (95% CI 0.08, 0.06) and − 0.34 (95% CI − 0.46, − 0.23), respectively].


Osteosarcopenia is frequent and the relative risk of fracture is higher among sarcopenic patients. A standard and strict classification of sarcopenia is needed to assess its true relationship and consequences.


Sarcopenia Osteoporosis Sarcopenia Osteosarcopenia Fracture Older 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Barbara Rubek Nielsen (BRN), Jawdat Abdulla (JA), Hanne Elkjær Andersen (HEA), Peters Schwarz (PS) and Charlotte Suetta (CS) declare that they have no conflict of interest, that the study was not founded.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. All the authors certify that they comply with the standard ethical guidelines for authorship and publishing.

Informed consent

For this type of study formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© European Geriatric Medicine Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Rubek Nielsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jawdat Abdulla
    • 1
  • Hanne Elkjær Andersen
    • 1
  • Peter Schwarz
    • 2
  • Charlotte Suetta
    • 3
  1. 1.Medical Department MAmager and Hvidovre HospitalGlostrupDenmark
  2. 2.Department of EndocrinologyRigshospitalet and Faculty of Health Sciences, Copenhagen UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Geriatric MedicineFrederiksberg and Bispebjerg Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, Copenhagen UniversityCopenhagenDenmark

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