Physical activity and fat-free mass during growth and in later life

Klaas R Westerterp, Yosuke Yamada, Hiroyuki Sagayama, Philip N Ainslie, Lene F Andersen, Liam J Anderson, Lenore Arab, Issaad Baddou, Kweku Bedu-addo, Ellen E Blaak, Stephane Blanc, Alberto G Bonomi, Carlijn V C Bouten, Pascal Bovet, Maciej S Buchowski, Nancy F Butte, Stefan G J A Camps, Graeme L Close, Jamie A Cooper, Sai K DasRichard Cooper, Lara R Dugas, Ulf Ekelund, Sonja Entringer, Terrence Forrester, Barry W Fudge, Annelies H Goris, Michael Gurven, Catherine Hambly, Asmaa El hamdouchi, Marije B Hoos, Sumei Hu, Noorjehan Joonas, Annemiek M Joosen, Peter Katzmarzyk, Kitty P Kempen, Misaka Kimura, William E Kraus, Robert F Kushner, Estelle V Lambert, William R Leonard, Nader Lessan, Corby K Martin, Anine C Medin, Erwin P Meijer, James C Morehen, James P Morton, Marian L Neuhouser, Theresa A Nicklas, Robert M Ojiambo, Kirsi H Pietiläinen, Yannis P Pitsiladis, Jacob Plange-rhule, Guy Plasqui, Ross L Prentice, Roberto A Rabinovich, Susan B Racette, David A Raichlen, Eric Ravussin, Rebecca M Reynolds, Susan B Roberts, Albertine J Schuit, Anders M Sjödin, Eric Stice, Samuel S Urlacher, Giulio Valenti, Ludo M Van etten, Edgar A Van mil, Jonathan C K Wells, George Wilson, Brian M Wood, Jack Yanovski, Tsukasa Yoshida, Xueying Zhang, Alexia J Murphy-alford, Cornelia U Loechl, Amy H Luke, Herman Pontzer, Jennifer Rood, Dale A Schoeller, William W Wong, John R Speakman, Stefan Branth, Lisa H Colbert, Niels C De Bruin, Alice E Dutman, Sölve Elmståhl, Mikael Fogelholm, Tamara Harris, Rik Heijligenberg, Hans U Jorgensen, Christel L Larsson, Elisabet M Rothenberg, Margaret Mccloskey, Gerwin A Meijer, Daphne L Pannemans, Sabine Schulz, Rita Van Den Berg-emons, Wim G Van Gemert, W Wilhelmine, Venne Verboeket-van De, Jeanine A Verbunt, Renaat M Philippaerts, Amy Subar, Minna Tanskanen, Ricardo Uauy, Erica J Velthuis-te Wierik

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Physical activity may be a way to increase and maintain fat-free mass (FFM) in later life, similar to the prevention of fractures by increasing peak bone mass.

A study is presented of the association between FFM and physical activity in relation to age.

In a cross-sectional study, FFM was analyzed in relation to physical activity in a large participant group as compiled in the International Atomic Energy Agency Doubly Labeled Water database. The database included 2000 participants, age 3–96 y, with measurements of total energy expenditure (TEE) and resting energy expenditure (REE) to allow calculation of physical activity level (PAL = TEE/REE), and calculation of FFM from isotope dilution.

PAL was a main determinant of body composition at all ages. Models with age, fat mass (FM), and PAL explained 76% and 85% of the variation in FFM in females and males < 18 y old, and 32% and 47% of the variation in FFM in females and males ≥ 18 y old, respectively. In participants < 18 y old, mean FM-adjusted FFM was 1.7 kg (95% CI: 0.1, 3.2 kg) and 3.4 kg (95% CI: 1.0, 5.6 kg) higher in a very active participant with PAL = 2.0 than in a sedentary participant with PAL = 1.5, for females and males, respectively. At age 18 y, height and FM–adjusted FFM was 3.6 kg (95% CI: 2.8, 4.4 kg) and 4.4 kg (95% CI: 3.2, 5.7 kg) higher, and at age 80 y 0.7 kg (95% CI: −0.2, 1.7 kg) and 1.0 kg (95% CI: −0.1, 2.1 kg) higher, in a participant with PAL = 2.0 than in a participant with PAL = 1.5, for females and males, respectively.

If these associations are causal, they suggest physical activity is a major determinant of body composition as reflected in peak FFM, and that a physically active lifestyle can only partly protect against loss of FFM in aging adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1583-1589
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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