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    A simple framework to distinguish ‘individualistic’ from a ‘uniform rate’ of ageing within or between study populations

    Degens, Hans ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7399-4841 and Onambélé-Pearson, Gladys L (2023) A simple framework to distinguish ‘individualistic’ from a ‘uniform rate’ of ageing within or between study populations. GeroScience. ISSN 2509-2715

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    Ageing is accompanied by a progressive decline in physiological functions. It is often argued that the rate of ageing differs between people and is ‘highly individualistic’. This view is not unequivocally shared, and others have argued that the rate of ageing is rather ‘uniform’. Distinguishing conclusively between these views requires longitudinal data, but these are difficult to obtain as they require decades of data collection from individuals. Here, a simple framework is proposed to assess in cross-sectional data whether in a given population the rate is ‘highly individualistic’ or rather ‘uniform’. It is illustrated that an age-related decrease in the standard deviation (SD) of a certain parameter combined with a non-changing coefficient of variation (COVAR) reflects a ‘uniform’ rate of ageing, whilst an increase or decrease in COVAR with or without a concomitant increase in SD reflects a ‘highly individualistic’ rate of ageing. This framework is applied to some published data, focussing on muscle strength, power and physical function for the sake of illustration, and it is suggested that most studies do in fact show a ‘highly individualistic’ rate of ageing, perhaps apart from a ‘uniform’ rate of ageing in master athletes.

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