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Body composition as a frailty marker for the elderly community

Authors Falsarella G, Gasparotto LPR, Barcelos CC, Coimbra IB, Moretto MC, Pascoa MA, Ferreira TCBR, Coimbra AMV

Received 14 March 2015

Accepted for publication 17 June 2015

Published 19 October 2015 Volume 2015:10 Pages 1661—1667


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Gláucia Regina Falsarella,1 Lívia Pimenta Renó Gasparotto,1 Caroline Coutinho Barcelos,2 Ibsen Bellini Coimbra,1,2 Maria Clara Moretto,1 Mauro Alexandre Pascoa,3 Talita C B Rezende Ferreira,1 Arlete Maria Valente Coimbra1,4

1Gerontology Program, Faculty of Medical Sciences, 2Department of Medical Clinics, Faculty of Medical Sciences, 3Department Biodynamics of Movement, Faculty of Physical Education, 4Family Health Program, Gerontology Program, Faculty of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil

Background: Body composition (BC) in the elderly has been associated with diseases and mortality; however, there is a shortage of data on frailty in the elderly.
Objective: To investigate the association between BC and frailty, and identify BC profiles in nonfrail, prefrail, and frail elderly people.
Methods: A cross-sectional study comprising 235 elderly (142 females and 93 males) aged ≥65 years, from the city of Amparo, State of São Paulo, Brazil, was undertaken. Sociodemographic and cognitive features, comorbidities, medication, frailty, body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, fat mass, bone mass, and fat percent (%) data were evaluated. Aiming to examine the relationship between BC and frailty, the Mann–Whitney and Kruskal–Wallis nonparametric tests were applied. The statistical significance level was P<0.05.
Results: The nonfrail elderly showed greater muscle mass and greater bone mass compared with the prefrail and frail ones. The frail elderly had greater fat % than the nonfrail elderly. There was a positive association between grip strength and muscle mass with bone mass (P<0.001), and a negative association between grip strength and fat % (P<0.001). Gait speed was positively associated with fat mass (P=0.038) and fat % (P=0.002). The physical activity level was negatively associated with fat % (P=0.022). The weight loss criterion was positively related to muscle mass (P<0.001), bone mass (P=0.009), fat mass (P=0.018), and BMI (P=0.003). There was a negative association between fatigue and bone mass (P=0.008).
Discussion: Frailty in the elderly was characterized by a BC profile/phenotype with lower muscle mass and lower bone mass and with a higher fat %. The BMI was not effective in evaluating the relationship between BC and frailty. The importance of evaluating the fat % was verified when considering the tissue distribution in the elderly BC.

Keywords: elderly, body composition, frailty

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