Despite Risks, Americans Are Not Taking Action to Protect Themselves Against Muscle Loss as They Age

Survey finds that while 70 percent of Americans are concerned about muscle loss, the majority are not taking action to maintain muscle health

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly nine in 10 people think feeling weaker is one of the worst parts about aging, according to a recent survey commissioned by Abbott and developed in conjunction with the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging, a nonprofit dedicated to the health and well-being of older adults, which provided expert, independent review.  But while 70 percent of Americans say they are concerned about muscle loss, close to 90 percent of Americans over the age of 45 are not taking critical steps, like making both daily exercise and proper nutrition part of their daily routines, to protect their muscles as they get older.

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″Muscle loss is a serious issue that can lead to severe health and lifestyle consequences, yet building and maintaining muscle isn't top of mind for most adults," said Evelyn Granieri, M.D., M.P.H., MSEd from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York who provided expert input into the survey before it was fielded.  "Especially with an aging baby boomer population, it's important that people take charge of their health and take action now so that they can continue doing the things they enjoy in the future.″

Facts on Muscle Loss and Aging

  • Clinical research shows that starting at age 40, the body can lose eight percent of muscle per decade, which can lead to loss of strength, mobility and the freedom to enjoy daily life.  
  • In fact, one in three Americans surveyed over age 45 point directly to their loss of strength or mobility as the reason for giving up activities they once enjoyed.
  • Yet, despite the risks associated with muscle loss, of those surveyed, only a quarter make both a balanced diet and resistance training part of their everyday routine and 80 percent of Americans over age 45 have never discussed the issue with their physician.

Facts on Muscle Health for People in Recovery

  • For people suffering from illness, injury or recovering from surgery, the impact of muscle loss is even more severe.  
  • The same study found that nearly 70 percent of patients who suffered a serious medical setback did not expect muscle loss to be a problem during their recovery.  
  • Nevertheless, approximately 60 percent of recently hospitalized survey respondents did report a noticeable loss in muscle mass.
  • After discharge, less than a third changed their diet to help combat this muscle loss.

″With a rapidly growing aging population in the U.S., muscle health is an important issue that everyone over the age of 40 should seriously consider,″ said Dr. Granieri.  "Talking to your doctor or dietitian is a great way to establish small steps to take to protect your muscle health today so you can have a much more active and productive life as you age.″

About the Survey

The survey was conducted on behalf of Abbott among 1,000 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and older, with an oversample of 200 interviews among American adults who have suffered from a serious, temporary illness or injury in the past year. The interviews were conducted online by Wakefield Research between February 10 and February 16, 2010.  The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging provided expert, independent review on the survey in advance of its release.  Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population ages 18 and older. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.1 percentage points for the national component of the study and +/- 6.9 percentage points for the recent patient oversample.

Related Resources and Links

AGS Foundation for Health in Aging:

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About Abbott

Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics.  The company employs approximately 83,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.

Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's Web site at