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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Nov;17(11):2082-8. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.109. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

Sarcopenic/obesity and physical capacity in older men and women: data from the Nutrition as a Determinant of Successful Aging (NuAge)-the Quebec longitudinal Study.

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Research Centre on Aging, Health and Social Services Centre, University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Qu├ębec, Canada.


Sarcopenia and obesity have been independently associated with physical capacity impairments. However, few studies have investigated the impact of sarcopenic/obesity on physical capacity in older individuals using objective measures of physical capacity and body composition. This study included 904 older individuals aged between 68 and 82 years old. Body composition (fat mass (FM) and lean body mass (LBM) by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)), physical capacity (timed up and go, chair stands, walking speed at normal and fastest pace, and one leg stand), sum of reported chronic conditions and physical activity level were measured. A global physical capacity score was then calculated giving a maximal score of 20. Finally, four groups were created within genders based on sarcopenia and obesity ((i) nonsarcopenic/nonobese; (ii) sarcopenic/nonobese; (iii) nonsarcopenic/obese; (iv) sarcopenic/obese). The four groups were significantly different for the sit-to-stand test and the one leg stand test (P < 0.05) and only for the one leg stand test in women (P < 0.05). In both genders results for the global physical capacity score revealed that both obese groups (sarcopenic and nonsarcopenic) were similar (P = 0.14 in men and P = 0.19 in women) and had a lower global physical capacity score compared to nonsarcopenic/nonobese individuals (P < 0.05). In addition, sarcopenic women displayed a higher score than both obese nonsarcopenic and obese sarcopenic groups (P < 0.01). Sarcopenic/obese men and women do not display lower physical capacity compared to nonsarcopenic/obese individuals in this cohort of well-functioning older men and women. Obesity per se appears to contribute more to lower physical capacity than sarcopenia.

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