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Abdominal Fat And Weak Muscles Among Older Adults Can Cause Mobility Problems: Study

Publicado em 13 setembro 2021

A threatening combination of weak muscles and abdominal fat can lead to major loss of gait speed among older people, stated a recently published study.

A threatening combination of weak muscles and abdominal fat can lead to major loss of gait speed among older people, stated a new study led by international researchers. The study was published in the ‘Age and Aging’ journal and conducted by the researchers at the Federal University of Sao Carlos (UFSCar) in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil in partnership with colleagues at University College London (UCL) in the UK. The researchers said that older people with abdominal fat, weak muscles face a risk of developing mobility problems. 

While a slower gait is a natural outcome of the ageing process, mobility issues can also result if the walking speed falls sharply. Notably, even the day-to-day activities including crossing roads before the change of traffic lights can become significantly difficult. The international researchers also said that among the said adults, there might be a heightened risk of falling and gradual loss of independence if the situation further deteriorates. 

Our comparative analysis showed loss of gait speed occurring mainly when abdominal fat and weak muscles were associated. Gait speed didn't decline so sharply in older people who had only abdominal fat or only weak muscles," said Tiago da Silva Alexandre, a professor at the Department of Gerontology, Center for Biological and Health Sciences, Federal University of Sao Carlos (CCBS-UFSCar), and last author of a paper on the study, as per ANI.

Data of 2,294 adults analysed

For the study, the researchers analysed data for 2,294 adults aged 60 or more who also participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). As per ANI, it was supported by FAPESP through a Young Investigator Grant and PhD scholarship. The participants of the study were divided into four groups based on the ELSA data for gait speed and muscle weakness, which is also known as dynapenia. 

These categories included the ones who were neither dynapenic nor abdominally obese, abdominal obese only, dynapenic only and both dynapenic and abdominally obese. Notably, while none of the participants showcased any mobility or gait speed problems at the beginning of the measurement, the gait speed declined in most people with abdominal obesity and dynapenia in the eight years of monitoring.

Roberta de Oliveira Maximo, a PhD candidate in UFSCar's Graduate Program in Physiotherapy and the first author of the paper has noted that the baseline gait speed for 60-year-old and more without any mobility restrictions was defined as 0.8 m/s (or 2.88 km/h). She reportedly said, “In the participants with abdominal obesity and muscle weakness, we observed a loss of 0.15 m/s in the eight-year period. At this rate there may come a time when they can't cross the street in the time allowed by traffic lights.”

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