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The influence of adiposity on the interactions between strength, physical function and cognition among older adults in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study

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Background: Being overweight or obese may be associated with lower physical and cognitive function, but in late-adulthood (≥ 65 years) evidence is mixed. This study aimed to investigate how being overweight or obese affected interactions between muscle strength, function and cognition in Australians aged ≥ 50 years, and whether interactions varied according to age (i.e. ≥ 50–65 vs > 65 years). Methods: This study included 2368 adults [mean (standard deviation) age: 63 (7) years; 56% female] from the 2011/2012 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) follow-up. Physical function was assessed via timed up-and-go (TUG) and muscle strength from knee extensor strength (KES). Cognition was assessed using Mini-Mental-State Exam (MMSE), Spot-the-Word (STW), California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) and Symbol–Digit-Modalities Test (SDMT). Beta binomial regression was used to evaluate how being overweight or obese influenced strength, physical and cognitive function associations. Results: Being overweight or obese did not affect strength-cognition associations regardless of sex or age. With slower physical function; obese females showed better STW (odds ratio [OR] 95% CI]: 1.070 [1.016, 1.127], P = 0.011); obese men better MMSE (OR [95% CI]: 1.157 [1.012, 1.322], P = 0.033); and obese men aged > 65 better CVLT (OR [95% CI]: 1.122 [1.035, 1.217], P = 0.019) and MMSE (OR [95% CI]: 1.233 [1.049, 1.449], P = 0.017) compared to normal weight participants. Conclusion: Slower physical function was associated with better performance in some cognitive domains in obese, but not in non-obese adults aged ≥ 50 years. These findings suggest some benefits of obesity to aspects of cognition when physical function is slower, but longitudinal follow-up studies are needed.

History

Journal

BMC Geriatrics

Volume

22

Issue

1

eISSN

1471-2318

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal