Associations of low muscle mass and the metabolic syndrome in Caucasian and Asian middle-aged and older adults

D. Scott, M.S. Park, T. N. Kim, J. Y. Ryu, H. C. Hong, H. J. Yoo, S. H. Baik, G. Jones, K.M. Choi

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Objective: Age-related declines in skeletal muscle mass may confer significant metabolic consequences for older adults. Associations of low muscle mass and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in Caucasians, and comparisons with associations observed in Asian populations, have not been reported. We examined associations of low muscle mass and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in Asian and Caucasian middle-aged and older men and women using criteria for low muscle mass. Design, Setting and Participants: Two population-based studies of Australian (Tasmanian Older Adult Cohort Study; TASOAC; N=1005) and Korean (Korean Sarcopenic Obesity Study; KSOS; N=376) community-dwelling adults, mean age 62 and 58 years, respectively. Measurements: Appendicular lean mass (aLM) determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and normalised to height squared (aLM/Ht2), weight (aLM/Wt) or body mass index (aLM/BMI). Participants in the lowest sex-specific 20% for aLM measures were defined as having low muscle mass. MetS was defined according to National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria. Results: Although Australians demonstrated generally unfavourable anthropometric and metabolic characteristics compared to Koreans, prevalence of MetS was similar (29.5% in Australians and 31.4% in Koreans, respectively). Low aLM/Ht2 was associated with significantly reduced likelihood of MetS in both Australians (OR: 0.30, 95% CI 0.19 - 0.46) and Koreans (OR: 0.31, 95% CI 0.16 – 0.62). Conversely, low aLM/BMI was associated with increased odds for MetS in Australians (OR: 1.78, 95% CI 1.12–2.84), but not Koreans (OR: 1.33, 95% CI = 0.67–2.64). Conclusion: Low aLM/BMI is associated with significantly increased likelihood of MetS in Australian adults, but not Koreans, suggesting potential differences in effects of low muscle mass relative to body mass on cardiometabolic health in Caucasian and Asian middle-aged and older adults. Low muscle mass relative to height is associated with reduced likelihood of MetS in both populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-255
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • aging
  • metabolic syndrome
  • Muscle mass
  • sarcopenia

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