Older Men with Sarcopenia Are More Likely to Develop Diabetes over Time

New findings point to age-related muscle loss as a contributing factor to diabetes in the elderly

Older men who have lower lean body mass as they age are more prone to developing diabetes, while similar findings were not found in older women, according to a new study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.


One in four adults aged 65 and older has diabetes, making them the group with the greatest burden of diabetes. Skeletal muscle is the largest insulin-sensitive tissue in the body and plays an essential role in blood sugar regulation. Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, may contribute to the development of diabetes in older adults.


“Age-related muscle loss may be an under-recognized target for interventions to prevent the development of diabetes in older adults,” says the study’s first author, Rita R. Kalyani, MD, of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. “We found that relatively lower lean body mass with aging was related to a higher incidence of diabetes in men but not women, and partially related to body size.”

The researchers studied 871 men and 984 women, with an average age of 60 years at the initial visit, from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, who were followed up to 15 years. They used Dual X-ray Absorptiometry and found that lower lean body mass with aging is associated with incident diabetes in men but not women.

“Future studies that use more direct methods to assess skeletal muscle mass may give further insights into these relationships and the sex differences that we observed,” Kalyani says.

Other authors include: E. Jeffrey Metter of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tenn.; Qian-Li Xue and Sherita Golden of the Johns Hopkins University; Mohammed Al-Sofiani of the Johns Hopkins University and the King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Hermes Florez of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Fla; and Josephine M. Egan, Chee W. Chia, Stephanie Studenski, Nancy Chiles Shaffer, and Luigi Ferrucci of the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Md.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging.

The manuscript, The Relationship of Lean Body Mass with Aging to the Development of Diabetes,” was published online.