MUSCLE weakness conditions cost the UK about £2.5billion in health and social care costs, a study carried out by the University of Southampton has revealed.

Scientists from the university, along with the University of Oxford, examined the health and social care costs for people with and without muscle weakness and found that on average, individuals with muscle weaknesses had social care costs which were £2,707 per year higher than people without.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, director of the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, said: “Sarcopenia in older age is now recognised as a major public health problem. Lifestyle factors such as poor diet and physical inactivity as well as low birth weight (indicative of poor foetal environment) contribute to this condition.

"The substantial costs of muscle weakness demonstrate the importance of developing strategies to promote maintenance, and reduce loss, of strength in later life.”

Muscle weakness and sarcopenia – loss of muscle mass – are common among older people and are associated with higher risks of disability, frailty and premature death.

In addition, it was discovered that nearly half of the "excess" costs were due to informal care.

Lead author, Dr Rafael Pinedo-Villanueva, Senior Researcher in Health Economics at the University of Oxford, said: “With this study we not only estimate how much it costs the healthcare system and society in general to care for older adults with muscle weakness, but we also gain a better understanding about the healthcare services they receive, and their reliance on friends and family for the provision of care at home, which is often overlooked when assessing the economic burden of health conditions.”