Influence of age and gender on fat mass, fat-free mass and skeletal muscle mass among Australian adults: The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AUSDIAB)

C. Strugnell, D. W. Dunstan, D. J. Magliano, P. Z. Zimmet, J. E. Shaw, Robin M. Daly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Bioelectrical impedance (BIA) represents a simple, inexpensive and non-invasive method that is often used to assess fat-mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) in large population-based cohorts. Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the reference ranges and examine the influence of age and gender on FM, FFM and skeletal muscle mass (SMM) as well as height-adjusted estimates of FM [fat mass index (FMI)], FFM [fat-free mass index (FFMI)] and SMM [SMM index (SMI)] in a national, population-based cohort of Australian adults. Design and Participants: The analytical sample included a total of 8,582 adults aged 25-91 years of Europid origin with complete data involved in the cross-sectional 1999-2000 Australian, Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study. Measurements: Bioelectrical impedance analysis was used to examine components of body composition. Demographic information was derived from a household interview. Results: For both genders, FFM, SMM and SMI decreased linearly from the age of 25 years, with the exception that in men SMI was not related to age and FFM peaked at age 38 years before declining thereafter. The relative loss from peak values to ≥75 years in FFM (6-8%) and SMM (11-15%) was similar between men and women. For FM and FMI, there was a curvilinear relationship with age in both genders, but peak values were detected 6-7 years later in women with a similar relative loss thereafter. For FFMI there was no change with age in men and a modest increase in women. Conclusion: In Australian adults there is heterogeneity in the age of onset, pattern and magnitude of changes in the different measures of muscle and fat mass derived from BIA, but overall the age-related losses were similar between men and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-546
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished or Issued - May 2014


  • Age and gender
  • Fat mass
  • Fat-free mass
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Cite this