• aged;
  • body composition;
  • body fat;
  • sarcopenia;
  • skeletal muscles

Aim:  Near infrared spectroscopy has been reported to have a high reliability and accuracy in assessing the percentage of body fat. However, whether muscle mass can be accurately estimated using this method has not been established. This study examined whether a near infrared spectroscopy method could estimate appendicular muscle mass and fat mass, with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry as the standard method for comparison.

Methods:  A total of 20 orthopedic inpatients (mean age 73.2 ± 6.8 years) were recruited for this study. Their body composition was assessed using near infrared spectroscopy and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Appendicular muscle mass and fat mass were estimated from height, weight and optical densities.

Results:  The optical densities for the upper arm (biceps, triceps) and forearm (flexor carpi radialis) were significantly correlated with appendicular muscle mass (r = 0.534 to 0.623) or fat mass (r = −0.483 to −0.827). Estimated appendicular muscle mass and fat mass explained 89% and 80% of the variance in the dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry-derived muscle mass and fat mass estimates using height, weight and optical density values of the proximal flexor carpi radialis.

Conclusions:  Near infrared spectroscopy is a useful method to assess not only fat mass, but also muscle mass in older adults. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2012; ••: ••–••.