Age-related skeletal muscle mass loss and physical performance in Taiwan: Implications to diagnostic strategy of sarcopenia in Asia

Li Kuo Liu, Wei Ju Lee, Chien Liang Liu, Liang Yu Chen, Ming Hsien Lin, Li Ning Peng, Liang Kung Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Aim: Skeletal muscle loss is a common feature of aging, and is associated with unfavorable outcomes. Although several indexes of skeletal muscle mass measurement have been developed, the most optimal index for sarcopenia diagnosis among Asian populations has remained unclear. The present study aimed to evaluate the relationship between skeletal muscle mass and physical performance among community-dwelling people in Taiwan. Methods: Data of the I-Lan Longitudinal Aging Study (ILAS) were retrieved for study. Comparisons between demographic profiles, physical performance and skeletal muscle mass (measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) were carried out. Skeletal muscle mass expressed by lean body mass divided by squared height (LBM/ht2), appendicular muscle mass divided by squared height (ASM/ht2) and percent skeletal muscle index (SMI%) were compared between measurements of physical performance. Results: Overall, the data of 532 participants (mean age 64.6±9.5 years, male 53.0%) were retrieved for analysis. Age was associated with poorer physical performance, and decreased ASM/ht2 and LBM/ht2, but not SMI%. Skeletal muscle mass (SMI%) was less significantly related to slow walking speed than ASM/ht2 in men. In women, all three muscle indexes showed no significant association between slow walking speed. In contrast, low handgrip strength was strongly associated with decreased skeletal muscle mass (measured by ASM/ht2 and LBM/ht2, but not SMI%) in both men and women. Conclusions: Skeletal muscle mass was significantly associated with handgrip strength along with aging, but the association of skeletal muscle mass and walking speed was less significant. In sarcopenia diagnosis among Asian populations, ASM/ht2 should be the most suitable index for skeletal muscle mass measurements, and physical performance should be measured universally beyond measurements of skeletal muscle mass. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2013; 13: 964-971.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)964-971
Number of pages8
JournalGeriatrics and Gerontology International
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Aging
  • Appendicular muscle mass
  • Body composition
  • Lean body mass
  • Sarcopenia
  • Skeletal muscle mass


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