Skeletal muscle mass reference curves for children and adolescents.
McCarthy HD., Samani-Radia D., Jebb SA., Prentice AM.
BACKGROUND: Skeletal muscle is key to motor development and represents a major metabolic end organ that aids glycaemic regulation. OBJECTIVES: To create gender-specific reference curves for fat-free mass (FFM) and appendicular (limb) skeletal muscle mass (SMMa) in children and adolescents. To examine the muscle-to-fat ratio in relation to body mass index (BMI) for age and gender. METHODS: Body composition was measured by segmental bioelectrical impedance (BIA, Tanita BC418) in 1985 Caucasian children aged 5-18.8 years. Skeletal muscle mass data from the four limbs were used to derive smoothed centile curves and the muscle-to-fat ratio. RESULTS: The centile curves illustrate the developmental patterns of %FFM and SMMa. While the %FFM curves differ markedly between boys and girls, the SMMa (kg), %SMMa and %SMMa/FFM show some similarities in shape and variance, together with some gender-specific characteristics. Existing BMI curves do not reveal these gender differences. Muscle-to-fat ratio showed a very wide range with means differing between boys and girls and across fifths of BMI z-score. CONCLUSIONS: BIA assessment of %FFM and SMMa represents a significant advance in nutritional assessment since these body composition components are associated with metabolic health. Muscle-to-fat ratio has the potential to provide a better index of future metabolic health.