The more muscle mass older Americans have, the less likely they are to die prematurely, new research shows. The findings add to the growing evidence that overall body composition — and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI — is a better predictor of all-cause mortality. “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said the study’s co-author. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”

New UCLA research suggests that the more muscle mass older Americans have, the less likely they are to die prematurely. The findings add to the growing evidence that overall body composition — and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI — is a better predictor of all-cause mortality.

The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, is the culmination of previous UCLA research led by Dr. Preethi Srikanthan, an assistant clinical professor in the endocrinology division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, found that building muscle mass is important in decreasing metabolic risk.

Srikanthan said. “So many studies on the mortality impact of obesity focus on BMI. Our study indicates that clinicians need to be focusing on ways to improve body composition, rather than on BMI alone, when counseling older adults on preventative health behaviors.”

The researchers analyzed data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III, conducted between 1988 and 1994. They focused on a group of 3,659 individuals that included men who were 55 or older and women who were 65 or older at the time of the survey. The authors then determined how many of those individuals had died from natural causes based on a follow-up survey done in 2004.

They looked at how this muscle mass index was related to the risk of death.

“In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said Dr. Arun Karlamangla, an associate professor in the geriatrics division at the Geffen School and the study’s co-author. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”

“We conclude that measurement of muscle mass relative to body height should be added to the toolbox of clinicians caring for older adults. Future research should determine the type and duration of exercise interventions that improve muscle mass and potentially increase survival in (healthy), older adults.”

 

Reference:

Story Source:
March 14, 2014
University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

Preethi Srikanthan, Arun S. Karlamangla. Muscle Mass Index as a Predictor of Longevity in Older-Adults. The American Journal of Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.02.007
ScienceDaily.com

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