Aging human body: changes in bone, muscle and body fat with consequent changes in nutrient intake

J Endocrinol. 2017 Jul;234(1):R37-R51. doi: 10.1530/JOE-16-0603. Epub 2017 Apr 25.


Aging affects almost all physiological processes, but changes in body composition and body phenotype are most observable. In this review, we focus on these changes, including loss of bone and muscle and increase in body fat or redistribution of the latter, possibly leading to osteosarcopenic obesity syndrome. We also address low-grade chronic inflammation, prevalent in aging adults and a cause of many disorders including those associated with body composition. Changes in dietary intake and nutritional requirements of older individuals, that all may lead to some disturbances on tissue and organ levels, are discussed as well. Finally, we discuss the hormonal changes in the aging body, considering each of the tissues, bone, muscle and fat as separate endocrine organs, but yet in the continuous interface and communication with each other. Although there are still many unanswered questions in this field, this review will enable the readers to better understand the aging human body and measures needing to be implemented toward reducing impaired health and disability in older individuals.

Keywords: aging; body composition; nutrition; osteosarcopenic obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*