The Association Between Body Adiposity Measures, Postural Balance, Fear of Falling, and Fall Risk in Older Community-Dwelling Women

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Abstract

Background and Purpose:

Recent investigations demonstrate an association between obesity and the propensity of older adults to fall. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between body adiposity measures, postural balance, fear of falling, and risk of falls in older women.

Methods:

One hundred forty-seven volunteers took part in this cross-sectional study. Participants underwent body composition assessment using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and had body mass index, waist circumference (WC), and body adiposity index measured. Postural balance was assessed using a force platform, while fear of falling and risk of falls were, respectively, evaluated by the Falls Efficacy Scale—International and the QuickScreen Clinical Falls Risk Assessment.

Results and Discussion:

All adiposity measures were correlated to at least 1 postural stability parameter and to fear of falling (ρ= 0.163, P < .05 to r = 0.337, P < .001); however, WC was the index most strongly correlated to risk of falls (ρ= 0.325; P < .001). When obesity was classified using WC, it was observed that compared with nonobese individuals (n = 51), obese individuals (n = 96) exhibited greater center of pressure displacement in the anteroposterior and mediolateral axes, especially during conditions with feet apart (P < .05). The obese group also exhibited an increased fear of falling (28.04 vs 24.59; P = .002) and had a higher proportion of individuals with increased fall risk (72% vs 35%; P < .001).

Conclusion:

In summary, adiposity measures are associated with risk of falls in older women, which might be mediated by reduced postural balance and increased fear of falling. Among these indices, WC, an easy and low-cost assessment, demonstrated the strongest association with falls-related outcomes.

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