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Obesity and sarcopenia are health problems associated with ageing. The present study modelled the longitudinal changes in body composition of healthy men, aged from 20 to 96 years, and evaluated the fidelity of BMI to identify age-dependent changes in fat mass and fat-free mass. The data from 7265 men with multiple body composition determinations (total observations 38,328) were used to model the age-related changes in body mass, fat mass, fat-free mass, BMI and percentage of body fat. Changes in fat mass and fat-free mass were used to evaluate the fidelity of BMI and to detect body composition changes with ageing. Linear mixed regression models showed that all trajectories of body composition with healthy ageing were quadratic. Fat mass, BMI and percentage of body fat increased from age 20 years and levelled off at approximately 80 years. Fat-free mass increased slightly from age 20 to 47 years and then declined at a non-linear rate with ageing. Levels of aerobic exercise had a positive influence on fat mass and a slight negative effect on fat-free mass. BMI and percentage of body fat were sensitive in detecting the increase in fat mass that occurred with healthy ageing, but failed to identify the loss of fat-free mass that started at age 47 years.

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