: The aims of this study were to investigate age-related changes in total body skeletal muscle mass (TBSMM) and the between-limb asymmetry in lean mass in a large sample of adults. Demographic, anthropometric, and DXA-derived data of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants were considered. The sample included 10,014 participants of two ethnic groups (Caucasians and African Americans). The age-related decline of TBSMM absolute values was between 5% and 6% per decade in males and between 4.5% and 5.0% per decade in females. The adjustment of TBSMM for body surface area (TB-MAXI) showed that muscle mass peaked in the second decade and decreased progressively during the subsequent decades. The following thresholds were identified to distinguish between low and normal TB-MAXI: (i) 10.0 kg/m2 and 11.0 kg/m2 in Caucasian and African American females; and (ii) 12.5 kg/m2 and 14.5 kg/m2 in Caucasian and African American males. The lean asymmetry indices were higher for the lower limbs compared with the upper limbs and were higher for males compared with females. In conclusion, the present study proposes the TB-MAXI and lean asymmetry index, which can be used (and included in DXA reports) as clinically relevant markers for muscle amount and lean distribution.
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