Background & aim: Low fat-free mass (FFM) or high fat mass (FM) are abnormal body composition phenotypes associated with morbidity. These conditions in combination lead to worse health outcomes, and can be identified by a high FM/FFM ratio. Here, we developed sex, age, and body mass index (BMI) stratified, population-based FM/FFM reference values using bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) measurements.
Methods: White, non-Hispanic individuals aged 18-90 years old with data for weight, stature and BIA resistance measures from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III were included. Previously validated and sex-specific BIA prediction equations were used to calculate FM and FFM. FM/FFM values were generated at 5th, 50th and 95th percentiles for each sex, age (18-39.9, 40-59.9, 60-69.9 and 70-90 years), and BMI category (underweight, normal weight, overweight, class I/II and class III obesity).
Results: A total of 6372 individuals who had estimated FM and FFM values were identified (3366 females, 3006 males). Median values of FM/FFM were 0.24 and 0.40 for young (≤39.9 years) males and females with normal BMI, and 0.34 for males and 0.59 for females who were overweight. For elderly individuals aged >70 years, median FM/FFM for males and females were respectively 0.28 and 0.45 for those with normal BMI, and 0.37 and 0.61 for those in the overweight category.
Conclusions: These FM/FFM reference values provide information on body composition characteristics that account for age, sex and BMI, which can be useful to identify individuals at risk for body composition abnormalities.
Keywords: BIA; Fat mass; Fat-free mass; NHANES.
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