Fat-Free and Fat Mass Percentiles in 5225 Healthy Subjects Aged 15 to 98 Years

Nutrition. 2001 Jul-Aug; 17(7-8):534-41. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(01)00555-x.
Kyle, U. G., Genton, L., Slosman, D. O., & Pichard, C.


Objectives: Fat-free mass (FFM) and fat mass (FM) are important in the evaluation of nutritional status. Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is a simple, reproducible method used to determine FFM and FM. Because normal values for FFM and FM have not yet been established in adults aged 15 to 98 y, its use is limited in the evaluation of nutritional status. The aims of this study were to determine reference values for FFM, FM, and percentage of FM by BIA in a white population of healthy adults, observe their differences with age, and develop percentile distributions for these parameters between ages 15 and 98 y.

Methods: Whole-body resistance and reactance of 2735 healthy white men and 2490 healthy white women, aged 15 to 98 y, was determined by 50-kHz BIA, with four skin electrodes on the right hand and foot. FFM and FM were calculated by a previously validated, single BIA formula and analyzed for age decades.

Results: Mean FFM peaked in 35- to 44-y-old men and 45- to 54-y-old women and declined thereafter. Mean FFM was 8.9 kg or 14.8% lower in men older than 85 y than in men 35 to 44 y old and 6.2 kg or 14.3% lower in women older than 85 y than in women 45 to 54 y old. Mean FM and percentage of FM increased progressively in men and women between ages 15 and 98 y. The results suggested that the greater weight noted in older subjects is due to larger FM.

Conclusions: The percentile data presented serve as reference to evaluate deviations from normal values of FFM and FM in healthy adult men and women at a given age.

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List of abbreviations

DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism