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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Feb 15;74(3):400-405. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gly067.

Body Composition Remodeling and Incident Mobility Limitations in African Ancestry Men.

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Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Department of Radiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Tobago Health Studies Office, Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago.
Department of Human Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.



Mobility limitations are common, with higher prevalence in African Americans compared with whites, and are associated with disability, institutionalization, and death. Aging is associated with losses of lean mass and a shift to central adiposity, which are more pronounced in African Americans. We aimed to examine the association of body composition remodeling with incident mobility limitations in older men of African ancestry.


Seven-year changes in body composition were measured using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) of the calf and whole-body dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in 505 African ancestry men aged ≥60 years and free of self-reported mobility limitations at baseline. Self-reported incident mobility limitations were assessed at 7-year follow-up. Odds of developing mobility limitations associated with baseline and change in body composition were quantified using separate logistic regression models.


Seventy-five men (14.9%) developed incident mobility limitations over 6.2 ± 0.6 years. Baseline body composition was not associated with incident mobility limitations. After adjustment for covariates, gaining total and intermuscular fat were associated with incident mobility limitations (odds ratio [OR]: 1.60; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.21-2.13; OR: 1.51; 95% CI: 1.18-1.94). Changes in DXA lean mass were not related to mobility limitations; however, maintaining pQCT calf muscle area was protective against mobility limitations (OR: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.48-0.87).


Increases in body fat, and particularly intermuscular fat, and decreases in calf skeletal muscle area were associated with a higher risk of developing mobility limitations. Our findings emphasize the importance of body composition remodeling in the development of mobility limitations among African ancestry men.


Computed tomography; DXA and Tobago; Fat; Muscle

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