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Research project

Musculoskeletal functional ability in three diverse Sub-Saharan Africa Populations: Prevalence, Nutritional Risk Factors and Implementable Solutions for better muscle health

Project overview

Loss of muscle strength and function is a common manifestation of ageing (known as sarcopenia), which leads to falls and fragility fractures (broken bones from low impact injuries), disability, frailty, and sometimes death. Despite this, little is known about how muscle ages in people living in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), nor the risk factors for muscle loss or the impact on quality of life. We will study three different populations in The Gambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. MUFASSA is an international cross-sectional study set across three countries in SSA, which broadly aims to assess muscle strength & function to understand healthy ageing. It is a 4 year project, which started in January 2022. More specifically MUFASSA aims to:i. Calculate how commonly muscle strength is impaired, physical functional is limited and muscle loss is experienced. ii. Understand to what extent losses in muscle strength and ability reduce the ability to perform activities of daily life, increase the risk of frailty and disability and how these impact quality of life. iii. Identify clinical, nutritional and metabolic risk factors for losses muscle function, to inform approaches to reduce future disability, and promote healthy ageing in SSA.


Lead researcher

Professor Kate Ward

Professor in Global M/skeletal Health

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Other researchers

Professor Cyrus Cooper


Research interests

  • Key research contributions have been:
  • discovery of the developmental influences which contribute to the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture in late adulthood

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Doctor Jonathan Swann

Professor of Biomolecular Medicine

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