Difficulties with physical function associated with obesity, sarcopenia, and sarcopenic-obesity in community-dwelling elderly women: the EPIDOS (EPIDemiologie de l'OSteoporose) Study.Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89(6):1895-900AJ
In elders, decreased muscle mass (sarcopenia) and increased fat mass (obesity) may contribute to difficulties with physical function.
The objective was to examine the association of obesity, sarcopenia, and their combination (sarcopenic-obesity) with self-reported difficulties performing physical function in a cohort of community-dwelling elderly women.
We assessed muscle and fat mass by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and self-reported difficulties with physical function in 1308 healthy women aged > or =75 y. Sarcopenia was defined as an appendicular skeletal muscle mass < or =2 SD below the mean in a young female reference group. Obesity was defined as a percentage body fat above the 60th percentile. Thirty-six sarcopenic-obese, 90 purely sarcopenic, 435 purely obese, and 747 women with a healthy body composition were studied. Anthropometric measures, health status, lifestyle habits, and self-reported difficulties with 6 different physical functions were obtained.
Compared with women with a healthy body composition and after adjustment for confounders, purely sarcopenic women had no increased odds of having difficulties for all of the physical functions assessed, purely obese women had a 44-79% higher odds of having difficulties with most of the physical functions assessed (P < 0.05), and sarcopenic-obese women had a 2.60 higher odds of having difficulty climbing stairs and a 2.35 higher odds of having difficulty going down stairs (all P < 0.05).
Sarcopenia is not associated with physical difficulties in the absence of obesity. However, in the presence of obesity, sarcopenia tends to add difficulty for some physical functions.