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Healthy body composition at midlife tied to successful ageing in men

25 Nov 2020

A desirable body composition with regard to both fat and skeletal muscle mass at midlife is a good predictor of successful ageing in men, according to a study.

The investigators assessed the relationship between midlife body composition and successful ageing, defined as high health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and reaching 90 years of age, during 32 years of follow-up in 1,354 men from the Helsinki Businessmen Study born 1919–1934.

Various health measurements were carried out in 1985/1986 (mean age, 60 years). Validated formulas (including age, weight, and waist and hip circumferences) were used to calculate percentages of body fat (BF) and skeletal muscle mass (SM), divided into quartiles. HRQoL was assessed in 2000 and 2007 (mean ages, 74 and 80 years, respectively) using RAND-36/Short Form-36 scales.

The investigators retrieved mortality data from registers through 2018 and determined longevity by calculating the proportion of participants reaching 90 years. They assessed odds ratios (ORs) with 95 percent confidence intervals (CIs) using logistic regression.

Higher percentage of SM at midlife in 1985/1986 correlated with higher scores in the RAND-36 scales of physical functioning, role limitations caused by physical health problems, vitality, social functioning, and general health in old age in 2000 (p<0.05). Of note, only the association with physical domain (ie, physical functioning, role limitations caused by physical health problems) remained statistically significant (p<0.01) in 2007.

On the other hand, quartiles of BF percentage in 1985/1986 showed an inverse association with several RAND-36 scales in 2000 and 2007.

Of the participants, 982 died and 281 reached the age of 90 years during the 32-year follow-up. Being in the highest SM percentage quartile at midlife increased (adjusted OR, 2.32, 95 percent CI, 1.53–3.53; lowest SM percentage quartile as reference) while being in the highest BF percentage quartile decreased the likelihood of reaching 90 years old.

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01 Dec 2020
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