The Gambian Bone and Muscle Ageing Study is a prospective observational study investigating bone and muscle ageing in men and women from a poor, subsistence farming community of The Gambia, West Africa. Musculoskeletal diseases, including osteoporosis and sarcopenia, form a major part of the current global non-communicable disease burden. By 2050, the vast majority of the world's ageing population will live in low- and middle-income countries with an estimated two-fold rise in osteoporotic fracture. The study design was to characterise change in bone and muscle outcomes and to identify possible preventative strategies for fracture and sarcopenia in the increasing ageing population. Men and women aged ≥40 years from the Kiang West region of The Gambia were recruited with stratified sampling by sex and age. Baseline measurements were completed in 488 participants in 2012 who were randomly assigned to follow-up between 1.5 and 2 years later. Follow-up measurements were performed on 465 participants approximately 1.7 years after baseline measurements. The data set comprises a wide range of measurements on bone, muscle strength, anthropometry, biochemistry, and dietary intake. Questionnaires were used to obtain information on health, lifestyle, musculoskeletal pain, and reproductive status. Baseline cross-sectional data show preliminary evidence for bone mineral density and muscle loss with age. Men had greater negative differences in total body lean mass with age than women following adjustments for body size. From peripheral quantitative computed tomography scans, greater negative associations between bone outcomes and age at the radius and tibia were shown in women than in men. Ultimately, the findings from The Gambian Bone and Muscle Ageing Study will contribute to the understanding of musculoskeletal health in a transitioning population and better characterise fracture and sarcopenia incidence in The Gambia with an aim to the development of preventative strategies against both.
Keywords: Africa; Gambia; ageing; bone; dual energy X-ray absorptiometry; muscle; non-communicable disease.