Background: Adults with low muscle mass have a poor prognosis. Studies that examined the association between total protein intake and low muscle mass among adults are limited. Thus, we investigated the association between total protein intake and low muscle mass among Korean adults aged ≥19 years. Methods: We included 15,995 adults (6528 male and 9467 female) aged ≥19 years from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (2008–2011). We divided the participants into groups according to protein intake quartile: Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 groups. The odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of low muscle mass according to protein intake were analysed via multivariable logistic regression analysis. Stratified analyses according to sex, age and comorbidities were also performed. Results: Of the participants, 3.8% had weight-adjusted low muscle mass. The prevalence rates of low muscle mass were 1.5, 3.0, 3.9 and 7.2% in the Q4, Q3, Q2 and Q1 groups, respectively (p < 0.001). Compared with the Q4 group, the Q1 group had the highest ORs for low muscle mass, followed by the Q2 and Q3 groups (Model 5; OR, 95% CI: 2.03, 1.36–3.02 for Q3; 2.44, 1.64–3.61 for Q2; and 4.32, 2.89–6.45 for Q4) after adjusting for confounding variables (p for trend < 0.001). The associations between protein intake and low muscle mass were stronger in younger individuals, men, individuals without hypertension, those with diabetes mellitus and those without dyslipidemia. Conclusions: The prevalence of low muscle mass in Korean adults significantly increased with lower protein intake. Nutrition education for proper protein intake is also important for adults. Trial registration: Retrospectively registered.
- Low muscle mass
- Protein intake
- Weight-adjusted low muscle mass