1993 Volume 30 Issue 7 Pages 572-576
Age is one of the most important factor of changes in energy metabolism. The basal metabolic rate decreases almost linearly with age. Skeletal musculature is a fundamental organ that consumes the largest part of energy in the normal human body. The total volume of skeletal muscle can be estimated by 24-hours creatinine excretion. The volume of skeletal musculature decreases and the percentage of fat tissue increases with age. It is shown that the decrease in muscle mass relative to total body may be wholly responsible for the age-related decreases in basal metabolic rate. Energy consumption by physical activity also decreases with atrophic changes of skeletal muscle. Thus, energy requirement in the elderly decreases. With decrease of energy intake, intake of essential nutrients also decreases. If energy intake, on the other hand, exceeds individual energy needs, fat accumulates in the body. Body fat tends to accumulate in the abdomen in the elderly. Fat tissue in the abdominal cavity is connected directly with the liver through portal vein. Accumulation of abdominal fat causes disturbance in glucose and lipid metabolism. It is shown that glucose tolerance decreases with age. Although age contributes independently to the deterioration in glucose tolerance, the decrease in glucose tolerance may be partly prevented through changes of life-style variables, energy metabolism is essential for the physiological functions. It may also be possible to delay the aging process of various physiological functions by change of dietary habits, stopping smoking, and physical activity.