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The frailty article strikes a sore point with me because it barely touches a key issue that deserves much more investigation: Instead of minimal muscle mass to avoid frailty, we should target optimal body composition for HEALTH AND LONGEVITY which I have been seeking now for months without much success.
My health improvement project started by losing over 55 pounds to a BMI of 22 with all of the advertised health benefits using Dr Joel Fuhrman's weight loss program. Today I feel great, can whip my weight in wildcats and run a 5k in 35 minutes. Dr Fuhrman suggested I could further optimize my health and longevity by exploring body composition. My investigation turned into a rats nest of problems and conflicting information, much of which emanates from the commercial gyms, weight loss and bodybuilding industries. I've bolstered my baloney detector and waded in further. I tested seven ways of measuring percent body fat
. The aggregate results varied from 17.7% to 30.9% - a range of error large enough to drive a truck through. Nevertheless, credible measurement methods of DEXA, MRI and Bod Pod repeatably clustered around 20% to 22% - accurate enough for practical purposes.
The Bod Pod report contained a chart that claims "male percent body fat
for excellent health and longevity is 9% to 12%", citing the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), et al. But when I queried ACE they failed to respond and when I queried ACSM they referred me to the Cooper Institute who produced a chart of recommended "fit" values of 10% to 20%, not even close to the Bod Pod claim and not demonstrably relevant to health and longevity. So I tracked down the USA representative office of the Italian firm that owns Bod Pod and invited them to substantiate their claim. So far their Customer Service Department appears to consist of little more than a bored telephone operator who has not responded to my query for over two weeks now. So at this point my baloney detector is screaming. I'm confident the predecessor owner got these numbers from somewhere. But just where and their credibility remains a mystery.
This study supports my baloney detector suspictions:
The Discussion section states, "The information needed to directly associate percentage body fat with morbidity and mortality is, unfortunately, presently unavailable even though there is increasing interest in ranges of body fat associated with optimum health..."
However, the above study is over 13 years old. New research could have been published since then. It seems clear to me there are both upper and lower bounds to optimal body composition in sarcopenia and individuals with percent body fat
less than 8%.
The needed missing values are, what is the optimal top of what may be a bell-shaped curve of percent body fat
and lean muscle mass for health and longevity and what is the shape of the curve so the public can productively target something in between?
It seems incredible to me that, with the many millions of dollars being spent on exercise and longevity science that the basic question of what constitutes an optimal body composition of percent body fat
and lean muscle mass for health and longevity has never been determined.
With a general population having their healthspan shortened by becoming more overweight and wasting muscle mass with each passing year just as sure as the Lord made little green apples, finding guidance as to what constitutes an optimal body composition target seems a laudable goal. There is little doubt that optimizing body composition is simple, cheap and effective if we only had a target. Any contemporary studies members can cite would be most appreciated.
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The article in question, which appeared in Life Extension Daily Bulletin, was selected from a news service subscribed to by Life Extension and because it is copyrighted, cannot be added to or modified in any way.
It appears that medical science has not come up with a definitive answer yet concerning optimal body composition, and perhaps that answer will be different for men and women, young and elderly, pregnant women and children, etc.