To investigate whether anthropometric and body composition variables and handgrip strength (HS) were associated with physical function and independent daily living in 88-year-old Swedish women.
A cross-sectional analysis of 83 community-dwelling women aged 88 years who were of normal weight (n=30), overweight (n=29), and obese (n=24) was performed.
Body weight (Wt), height, waist circumference (WC), and arm circumference were assessed using an electronic scale and a measuring tape. Tricep skinfold thickness was measured using a skinfold calliper. Fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) were measured using bioelectrical impedance analysis, and HS was recorded with an electronic grip force instrument. Linear regression was used to determine the contributions of parameters as a single predictor or as a ratio of HS to physical function (Short Form-36, SF-36PF) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL).
Obese women had greater absolute FM and FFM and lower HS corrected for FFM and HS-based ratios (i.e., HS/Wt, HS/body mass index [BMI]) than their normal weight and overweight counterparts. After adjusting for physical activity levels and the number of chronic diseases, HS-based ratios explained more variance in SF-36PF scoring (R2, 0.52-0.54) than single anthropometric and body composition variables (R2, 0.45-0.51). WC, HS, and HS-based ratios (HS/Wt and HS/FFM) were also associated with independence in IADL.
Obese very old women have a high WC but their HS is relatively low in relation to their Wt and FFM. These parameters are better than BMI for predicting physical function and independent daily living.