Gender and age differences in lean soft tissue mass and sarcopenia among healthy elderly

Anthropol Anz. 2009 Jun;67(2):139-51. doi: 10.1127/0003-5548/2009/0018.


Sarcopenia, the age related decline in skeletal muscle mass has dramatic consequences. It leads to impaired performance, increased vulnerability, frailty and an increased risk of falls. Various extrinsic and intrinsic factors contribute to the aetiology of sarcopenia. The aims of the present study was to analyse gender differences in the prevalence of sarcopenia and document gender differences in lean soft tissue mass in healthy elderly. 139 healthy subjects ageing between 59 and 92 years (x = 71.5 +/- 7.8), 77 females and 64 males, were enrolled in the study. Body composition was measured by means of dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Additionally appendicular muscle mass (ASM) was calculated. While no linear decrease in lean soft tissue mass was found for both sexes, the prevalence of sarcopenia increased significantly with increasing age in females as well as in males. Significant gender differences in the prevalence of sarcopenia were found for people younger than 70 years and those older than 80 years. In the youngest age group (< 70 years) sarcopenia was found more frequently among women, while in the oldest age group (> 80 years) the opposite was true. It can be concluded that the prevalence of sarcopenia differs between the two genders however these differences are influenced by age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Body Weight*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Muscular Atrophy / epidemiology*
  • Muscular Atrophy / physiopathology*
  • Organ Size
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Thinness / epidemiology*
  • Thinness / physiopathology*