Abnormalities in body composition can occur at any body weight. Low muscle mass is a predictor of poor morbidity and mortality and occurs in several populations. This narrative review provides an overview of the importance of low muscle mass on health outcomes for patients in inpatient, outpatient and long-term care clinical settings. A one-year glimpse at publications that showcases the rapidly growing research of body composition in clinical settings is included. Low muscle mass is associated with outcomes such as higher surgical and post-operative complications, longer length of hospital stay, lower physical function, poorer quality of life and shorter survival. As such, the potential clinical benefits of preventing and reversing this condition are likely to impact patient outcomes and resource utilization/health care costs. Clinically viable tools to measure body composition are needed for routine screening and intervention. Future research studies should elucidate the effectiveness of multimodal interventions to counteract low muscle mass for optimal patient outcomes across the healthcare continuum. Key messages Low muscle mass is associated with several negative outcomes across the healthcare continuum. Techniques to identify and counteract low muscle mass in clinical settings are needed.
Keywords: Body composition; cardiovascular diseases; critical illness; general surgery; liver diseases; long-term care; low muscle mass; neoplasms; primary health care; pulmonary disease; sarcopenia.