Associations between body composition and gait-speed decline: Results from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study1-4

Kristen M. Beavers, Daniel P. Beavers, Denise K. Houston, Tamara B. Harris, Trisha F. Hue, Annemarie Koster, Anne B. Newman, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Stephanie A. Studenski, Barbara J. Nicklas, Stephen B. Kritchevsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: In older adults, every 0.1-m/s slower gait speed is associated with a 12% higher mortality. However, little research has identified risk factors for gait-speed decline. Objective: We assessed the association between several measures of body composition and age-related decline in gait speed. Design: Data were from 2306 older adults who were participating in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition cohort and were followed for 4 y (50% women; 38% black). Usual walking speed (m/s) over 20 m was measured in years 2 through 6, and the baseline and changes in several measures of body composition were included in mixed-effects models. Results: Gait speed declined by 0.06 6 0.00 m/s over the 4-y period. Baseline thigh intermuscular fat predicted the annual gaitspeed decline (6SE) in both men and women (20.01 6 0.00 and 20.02 6 0.00 m/s per 0.57 cm2, respectively; P < 0.01). In men, but not in women, this relation was independent of total body adiposity. In longitudinal analyses, changes in thigh intermuscular fat and total thigh muscle were the only body-composition measures that predicted gait-speed decline in men and women combined. When modeled together, every 5.75-cm2 increase in thigh intermuscular fat was associated with a 0.01 6 0.00-m/s decrease in gait speed, whereas every 16.92-cm2 decrease in thigh muscle was associated with a 0.01 6 0.00-m/s decrease in gait speed. Conclusions: High and increasing thigh intermuscular fat are important predictors of gait-speed decline, implying that fat infiltration into muscle contributes to a loss of mobility with age. Conversely, a decreasing thigh muscle area is also predictive of a decline in gait speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-560
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume97
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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    Beavers, K. M., Beavers, D. P., Houston, D. K., Harris, T. B., Hue, T. F., Koster, A., Newman, A. B., Simonsick, E. M., Studenski, S. A., Nicklas, B. J., & Kritchevsky, S. B. (2013). Associations between body composition and gait-speed decline: Results from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study1-4. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(3), 552-560. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.047860