Background: Current evidence suggests that diminished muscle mass is associated with an increased risk of diabetes. This study aimed to investigate whether the effect of low muscle mass (LMM) on incident diabetes varied depending on the tracking period using a prospective, longitudinal design.

Methods: We recruited 6968 subjects without diabetes, aged 40 to 69 years, from the Korean Genomes and Epidemiology study and followed them to monitor the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). A standard 75-g oral glucose tolerance test was conducted at every 2-year follow-up visit. Skeletal muscle mass was assessed using bioelectrical impedance analysis, and a weight-adjusted skeletal muscle mass was defined as muscle mass index (MMI). We assessed the relationship between LMM, the sex-specific lowest tertile of MMI, and the risk of developing T2DM using Cox regression models.

Results: Of 6968 (47.4% men), 1846 progressed diabetes during the 18-year follow-up. LMM was associated with an increased risk of T2DM at 10 years and 10-18 years of follow-up in both genders after adjustment for confoundings. After additional adjustment for waist circumference, men with LMM were at significant risk of incident diabetes during the 10-year follow-up (hazard ratio [HR] 1.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28-1.86) but lost significance in 10-18 years., whereas women with LMM were at significantly increased risk (HR 1.32, 95% CI 1.03-1.69) only in 10-18 years. Over 18 years, LMM in men was consistently associated with an increased risk of diabetes from the initial period (at 2-year follow-up), whereas LMM in women has been shown to increase risk in the late period (from 12-year follow-up).

Conclusion: This study showed that LMM is an independent risk factor for T2DM with gender differences over time. LMM was a constant risk factor for diabetes in men, whereas it affected the later onset of diabetes in women.


E.Kim: None. Y.Cho: None. O.Hong: None. S.Moon: None. J.Han: None. S.Yoo: None. N.H.Cho: None.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at