OBJECTIVES: The combined effects of obesity and appendicular skeletal muscle (ASM) on atherosclerosis, especially in middleaged populations, remain poorly understood. This cross-sectional study investigated the effects of ASM on carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) according to body mass index (BMI) in middle-aged Korean adults. METHODS: Herein, 595 men and 1,274 women aged 30-64 years completed questionnaires and underwent health examinations as part of the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease Etiology Research Center cohort. ASM was measured via bioelectrical impedance analysis and adjusted for weight (ASM/Wt). IMT was assessed using B-mode ultrasonography; highest quartile of IMT was defined as gender-specific top quartile of the IMT values. Higher BMIs was defined as a BMI over 25.0 kg/m2 . RESULTS: Compared to the highest ASM/Wt quartile, the lowest ASM/Wt quartile was significantly associated with highest quartile of IMT in men with lower BMIs (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.09 to 7.13), but not in those with higher BMIs (aOR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.24 to 1.91). In women, there was no significant association of low skeletal muscle mass with highest quartile of IMT, regardless of BMI. CONCLUSIONS: Low appendicular skeletal muscle mass is associated with carotid arterial wall thickening in men with lower BMIs, but not in men with higher BMIs. Our findings suggest that the risk of atherosclerosis may be low in middle-aged Korean men with appropriate body weight and skeletal muscle mass maintenance.
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