Fat-Free Mass Index and Fat Mass Index Percentiles in Caucasians Aged 18–98 Years

International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. 2002 Jul; 26(7):953-60. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802037.
Schutz, Y., Kyle, U. U., & Pichard, C.


Objective: To determine reference values for fat-free mass index (FFMI) and fat mass index (FMI) in a large Caucasian group of apparently healthy subjects, as a function of age and gender and to develop percentile distribution for these two parameters.

Design: Cross-sectional study in which bioelectrical impedance analysis (50 kHz) was measured (using tetrapolar electrodes and cross-validated formulae by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in order to calculate FFMI (fat-free mass/height squared) and FMI (fat mass/height squared).

Subjects: A total of 5635 apparently healthy adults from a mixed non-randomly selected Caucasian population in Switzerland (2986 men and 2649 women), varying in age from 24 to 98 y.

Results: The median FFMI (18-34 y) were 18.9 kg/m(2) in young males and 15.4 kg/m(2) in young females. No difference with age in males and a modest increase in females were observed. The median FMI was 4.0 kg/m(2) in males and 5.5 kg/m(2) in females. From young to elderly age categories, FMI progressively rose by an average of 55% in males and 62% in females, compared to an increase in body mass index (BMI) of 9 and 19% respectively.

Conclusions: Reference intervals for FFMI and FMI could be of practical value for the clinical evaluation of a deficit in fat-free mass with or without excess fat mass (sarcopenic obesity) for a given age category, complementing the classical concept of body mass index (BMI) in a more qualitative manner. In contrast to BMI, similar reference ranges seems to be utilizable for FFMI with advancing age, in particular in men.

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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