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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)

journal contribution
posted on 2014-01-01, 00:00 authored by Claudia StrugnellClaudia Strugnell, David DunstanDavid Dunstan, D Magliano, P Zimmet, J Shaw, Robin DalyRobin Daly
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.


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.


Bioelectrical impedance analysis was used to examine components of body composition. Demographic information was derived from a household interview.


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.


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 agerelated losses were similar between men and women.



Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging


Online First




Paris, France





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Springer