The Effects of Adiposity on Motor Function in Older Adults
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Obesity has been well-documented for increasing risks of developing cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome. Despite this knowledge, the impacts of obesity may persist in other health domains. It is possible that motor performance may also be affected by obesity. Although a few studies have evaluated the relationship of increased body weight with balance and locomotion, most of them are only focused on young adults or children. Further, the outcomes of these studies do not investigate potential mechanisms resulting the behaviors observed. Currently, there is a gap in the literature in understanding regarding (1) if obesity is associated with impaired motor function in older adults and (2) mechanism that explain the effect of obesity on motor performance. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of adiposity on motor functions in older adults, and correlate the deficits in motor function with proposed potential mechanisms. Thirty older participants were assigned to one of three groups based upon their body mass index (BMI) values at the onset of the study: normal weight (BMI: 18.5–24.9 kg/m2), overweight (BMI: 25–29.9 kg/m2), or obese (BMI: 30–40 kg/m2). The average age for each Group was 70.1 ± 6.87, 71 ± 8.52 and 68.5 ± 5.9 years old, respectively. Each group had 5 males and 5 females. Participants received anthropometric measurement, cognitive evaluation, posture evaluation, gait evaluation and body composition assessment. Increased BMI was associated with reduced postural control performance under both cognitive-posture test and sensory organization test (SOT) assessment. No significant cognitive deficits were found between groups while performing cognitive-posture test, but the baselineMoCA test total score. Increased BMI was associated with increased stance/double support phase and reduced swing/single support phase during over-ground walking test, but did not affect range of motion,approximate entropy or other kinetic measures of the knees and hips. No significant differences in muscle co-contraction in knees or ankles were found. In conclusion, deficits in motor function were observed in obese older adults, and BMI was a significant predictor in evaluating postural and gait stability compared to total body fat percentage in older adults. Waist to hip ratio presented good correlations with reduced postural and gait stability measures suggesting physical impairments could be a factor leads to postural instability. However, muscle co-contraction and cognitive deficits did not contribute to motor deficits in the current study.